Sanders punched Dunleavy during 2012-13 season, according to report

Dunleavy holds Sanders back after an ejection. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
Dunleavy holds Sanders back after an ejection. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

According to a radio interview that Gery Woelfel did with Bill Michaels of WSSP 1250, Larry Sanders reportedly punched Mike Dunleavy, Jr. in a locker room incident during the 2012-13 season.

Given the miserable string of incidents that marred Sanders’ 2013-14 season, finding out an extra one from the season prior is unsurprising, yet it adds to the long list of issues that Sanders has amassed during his four-year professional career in Milwaukee.

Below is a transcription of the interview and further below is an embedded version of the audio of it. The relevant portion starts around the 11:55 mark.

Bill Michaels: If you’re going to trade Larry Sanders, who are you going to trade him for or what are you looking for in return?

Gery Woelfel: A third-round draft pick. (Chuckles).

Michaels: What do you say to a bag of basketballs?

Woelfel: That’s how I feel about Sanders. To me, it’s addition by subtraction. I’ve talked to enough players, enough coaches in the last 2-3 years.

Michaels: He’s just that much of a negative influence?  Because a year ago we were thinking that this guy called out Monta Ellishe called out Brandon Jennings in the locker room and said, “Quit worrying about your contracts. Let’s concentrate on the postseason.” And we were thinking this guy is great. This is what you want. And my God, did it turn around in a hurry.

Woelfel: Yeah, I mean it’s one thing to make comments behind closed doors about guys if you’re a player. But when you physically hit them, that’s quite another thing. And everybody knows about the Monta Ellis incident.

Earlier that same season — which didn’t go reported until I found out last season, if that makes sense  — was that early in that season he and Mike Dunleavy had a confrontation. Dunleavy was sitting in front of his stall after a game. They’re talking about sharing the ball blah blah blah and Sanders walks over and says ‘helloooo’ and clocks him.

Michaels: Really?

Woelfel: Yeah. You know? I mean come on. You know? You can’t pull that stuff. He’s just… he’s gotta get it and I don’t know if he ever will.

A few issues strike me about this report. First, Sanders did another stupid thing. Add it to a long, long list.

Secondly, if true, this punch happened as part of a tumultuous but productive 2012-13 season that preceded his contract extension. The Bucks would have known about it (and a scad of other issues) before he got his 4-year, $44 million extension in Summer 2013.

Third, I don’t recall having heard about this incident before in any way, shape or form. Dunleavy got punched by Sanders? I would remember that one, I think.

Evidently, Woelfel reported the Sanders punch without naming the recipient. In a story dated December 9, 2013, he wrote, “I was recently told Sanders had punched another teammate in the team’s locker room earlier in the (2012-13) season.” A month later, Woelfel hinted at the conflict again when he tweeted that the two players didn’t like each other when Dunleavy gave Sanders a hard but perfectly reasonable foul.

A short recap of Larry Sanders incidents:

April 19, 2012: Sanders tries to fight all the Indiana Pacers. Nary a teammate rushes to his defense. He later gets suspended for two games.

2011-12 season: Sanders amasses seven technical fouls and a total of two ejections.

Oct. 22, 2012: Sanders is suspended for a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors. It remains unclear exactly why he was suspended, though here are comments from him on the matter in a later feature story by Lori Nickel (Note: The Dunleavy thing might have been mutually exclusive, or it might not have been.):

“It shouldn’t have gotten where it did – but it helps now,” said the 24-year-old Sanders. “I see it a lot, teammates have disagreements. When those things are handled in the beginning of the season? Usually things are good. But when they are handled at the end of the season, things are lingering and fester. This was something that had to be kind of handled.

“I consider myself as a leader in a lot of ways. And at that point I had to kind of establish my respect. It was only so that my word could kind of be heard a little bit more. At that point I was kind of cast down a little bit because I was young, And so that was what that disagreement was about. It made us better teammates. Me and that guy are closer now and I feel like the team is closer now.”

January 2013: Sanders is cited twice for cruelty to animals for leaving his dogs out in the cold.

March 13, 2013: Three thumbs and a ejection.

March 15, 2013: Sanders gets ejected for the second game in a row and later earns a $50K fine for  using a “derogatory and offensive term and publicly criticizing the officials”.

March 22, 2013: Sanders caps a busy March with an ejection against Indiana.

April 25, 2013: Larry gets into a locker room dustup with Monta Ellis following a Game 3 loss in the playoff series with the Heat.

2012-13 season: Sanders accumulates 14 technical fouls, five ejections and six figures worth of fines.

August 20, 2013: The Bucks sign Sanders to a 4-year, $44 million extension that puts him under contract through 2018.

November 2, 2013: Larry breaks his thumb in a nightclub and hurls bottles everywhere. Criminal charges against him are later dropped.

January 5, 2014: Gary Neal suggests that Sanders try earning his money sometime.

April 2014: Sanders earns a five-game suspension for violating the NBA’s substance abuse policy, meaning that he flunked three league-mandated marijuana tests.

2013-14 season: Sanders picks up six more technical fouls and an ejection in 23 total games played.


Mixed into that two-year timeframe are about 100 games of regular-season basketball. What is perhaps most notable is that a large number of the outbursts preceded the extension. General manager John Hammond had to weigh Sanders’ defensive productivity against his locker room demeanor, his offensive ineptitude, his propensity for ejections and fights, and somehow Hammond still managed to tie the Bucks into a deal without getting much of a concession on price and/or contract length. And while this could seem like a lot of handwringing with the benefit of hindsight, this is actually the rare, interesting scenario in which the party that made this deal (Milwaukee) had more information before the deal happened, and still consented to it without getting a discount.

Again, it’s worth repeating for a third time: Without a discount!

Amazingly, there is still time for the Sanders contract to help the Bucks. He could still yet figure out a way to help in Milwaukee. His contract could fetch an asset via trade. He scored 25 points in his final game before suffering a season-ending face fracture; if he becomes that guy who doesn’t clunk up the offensive spacing and timing, then the deal is a steal.

More and more, though, the long list of temperamental crap that happens on and off the court is starting to make Hammond’s risky deal appear to be more of a liability.

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  1. Gery hates sanders. always has. You don’t actually believe this ********. He says this right after he said we should trade him for a third round pick. Just leave the ******* guy alone. Right about something that doesn’t make our own players look bad. Let alone make **** UP. a bunch of ********. I didn’t think anyone listened to gery anymore.

    • I absolutely believe Sanders would pull some dumb sh¡t like that. He obviously has zero self control. Even if he didn’t punch Dunleavy the fact remains that he was signed after doing a bunch of dumb stuff. I love how after he fails his third drug test he decides to tell us he is a weed activist! I want to know who decided to become pro weed because of Sanders’ endorsement, lol…At this point your endorsement is a negative. Dude is oblivious, definitely a liability…

    • I agree…this witch hunt has to stop. Larry Sanders has time to make that contract look like peanuts. A potential impact player.

      This is not Romper Room or Sesame Street. Locker rooms can get bumpy. Especially when you are losing. Larry Sanders strikes me as a player who cares.

      Maybe non All Star Mike Dunleavy Jr had said the same thing he says to Tyler Hansborough who Dunleavy also had a run in with in Indiana.

      Maybe the issue is not them, it is Dunleavy.

      • Witch hunt? I saw the video of his drunk ass slipping around the club throwing bottles wildly in the crowd (no one else seemed to be slipping all over). He’s constantly getting into riffs on the court as well. Witch hunt implies that there is very little evidence, he’s failed at least 3 drug tests, if I wasn’t allowed to wear sandles at work and was caught with sandles on for a third time I’d be embarrassed.

  2. No Surprise here.

    Can’t wait for more (much more) entertaining antics from the former LARRY SANDERS! Could a guy make more mistakes on and off the court than Sir Larry?

    • You probably make more mistakes off court then Larry does it is just no one picks you apart.
      I am trying to figure out what is the story with the dogs and why is that anyone’s business? He has kids…or allergies. Maybe the dogs needed to be kept outside.

      • When you make multi million dollar contracts as an athlete you are in the public eye and your actions will be scrutinized, guys know this and have P.R. departments. I don’t claim to be flawless and I harbor no ill will toward Larry Sanders but I have every right as a fan to question his contract based on his questionable behavior. I may have made more total mistakes but on a per year basis he’s he’s definitely giving me a run for the money. In my younger days I wouldn’t sign myself to a multi million dollar contract either based on character concerns.

      • I seem to remember that it it was terribly cold when this supposedly shook down. The ASPCA seemed to think it was bad enough to ticket him. This by itself means nothing, when you consider Larry’s body of work it starts to look like a pattern of selfish behavior. Wasn’t he ticked twice as well? Failed at least 3 drug tests? It appears that he has a very difficult time learning from his mistakes. I really hope he turns it around but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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  4. More negative press, though I find it less than necessary to bring it up now.

    Moreover, I’m still not convinced moving Sanders is the best move, even if we draft Embiid. At best he’s still proven to be one of the best defensive anchors in the league. If he can mature and be better on AND off the court, which he still has plenty of time to prove he can do, then he’s worth the risk. Not as if Milwaukee has a lot to lose by giving him another shot.

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  6. Garland coleman

    This guy is a waiting time bomb. When you don’t grow up you grow old. He’ll either smarten up or fade away smoother than mike’s vintage jumpshot.

  7. I think Larry Sanders is an amazing entertainer. Anyone who disagrees with me is a Communist.

    On a more serious note, enough of with high-horse garbage. Fans were egging him on with the “Larry!” chants every time he got a tech / ejection. Now all of a sudden throwing Sanders under the bus is the new cool thing. Last season was probably a good thing for him, pretty sure he lost his claim to being a “leader” and can now go back to what he was suppose to be — an enforcer.

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