Larry Sanders will not play against the Indiana Pacers tonight, and in his pregame media session, Jason Kidd told the assembled media that the absence was due to “personal reasons” (video below).
Sanders has missed the past four games — Atlanta (twice), Charlotte, and Cleveland — and tonight will be his fifth game missed.
This absence could be as simple as an illness in his family, or a medical condition for Sanders himself of a personal and private nature. But boy, is it ever hard to believe that stuff given the track record of how these things have shaken out in the past. (And the fact that there are multiple incidents to track makes it even sadder.)
So we’ve been duped again.
In the shootaround before the first Atlanta game, head coach Jason Kidd announced the absences of Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova, who has been absent for the same number of games.”
With Ers, again, I think we have a little concussion,” Kidd said. “So we’re being cautious. We’ll see how he feels in the next couple of days. And when you look at Larry, he’s out. He has the flu so we’ll see how he feels here in the next couple of days.
Later, in his pregame comments, Kidd was asked about shaking up his lineup. After citing Zaza Pachulia and Kendall Marshall as new starters, Kidd made a point of insisting that the change was mandated by injuries to his players.
It’s not a shake up. It’s just more or less we have some injuries.
More or less? How about less.
Given the nature of previous incidents, and given how the nature of those incidents continued to morph for the worse over time as they were revealed, count me among the skeptical. If it was something that wasn’t unpleasant, I would venture to guess it would have simply been referred to as “personal reasons” going back to that first absence in Atlanta.
A timeline of incidents involving Larry Sanders:
April 19, 2012: Sanders tries to fight all the Indiana Pacers. Not one 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.
Early 2012-13 season: Sanders reportedly punched teammate Mike Dunleavy.
Oct. 22, 2012: Sanders is suspended for a preseason game against the Toronto Raptors for personal conduct detrimental to the team. To this day, the details remain unclear, but Sanders commented in a later story by Lori Nickel (Note: Punching Dunleavy may have been a mutually exclusive event, but more likely, these two are one and the same.):
“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 up 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 is ejected from a game against Indiana.
April 25, 2013: Larry gets into a locker room dispute with Monta Ellis following a Game 3 loss in the playoff series with the Heat.
2012-13 season: Sanders racks up 14 technical fouls, five ejections and over $100K 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.
October 2014: Details emerge from a lawsuit brought by Sanders’ former agents. In it, Andy Miller and ASM Sports claim that Walters and Fegan stole Sanders as a client from Miller using “unfair competition”. Those back-dealings reportedly included Fegan and Walters offering to pay a close confidant of Sanders, Seth Willmot, and a former girlfriend/childhood friend, Cree Nix, a portion of the commission for their work managing Sanders.
From the decision:
“On July 16, 2013, Miller and Sanders met in Las Vegas. During the dinner, Sanders allegedly exhibited a “belligerent” attitude and demanded that Willmot receive 1% of Sanders’ total contract .”
And from an affadavit from an employee of Miller’s group:
“On June 21, 2013, Sanders came to New York for a meeting with Miller and Grossman. Sanders brought Cree Nix, an ex-girlfriend, with him to that meeting. Upon information and belief, Nix was approached by Walters and Fegan and offered a job and 1% of the commission to re-enter Sanders’ life and help lure him away from Miller. Again, to avoid any lack of clarity, Plaintiffs allege upon information and belief that Defendants paid Nix to have sexual relations with Sanders in order to gain influence with him and help Defendants lure him away from Miller.”
2014-15 season: Sanders starts off the season cleanly, but later amasses 4 technical fouls and a flagrant foul.
Dec. 18, 2014: Sanders is suspended for pushing Nic Batum on a dunk attempt.
January 2015: Jason Kidd says that Larry Sanders is not with the team for personal reasons. His absence begins the game following a 50-minute players-only meeting after a home loss against Charlotte.