Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Larry Sanders No Show

(Yahoo) - According to Racine Journal Times columnist Gery Woelfel, Sanders has alerted "some Bucks officials that he doesn't want to play basketball anymore."

Assuming this is actually true, rather than just Woelfel carrying water for someone in the Bucks org to make Sanders look bad... well, it's probably not true. His agent has denied it, the Bucks say they expect him back in a few days once he's over the flu, and his 4-year, $44 million deal, signed in 2013, still has eight figures of reasons to make it to Year Seven of NBA Life.

But let's go to the bullet anyway.

> Imagine if the Bucks were their usual level of bad? Milwaukee currently sits at 18-18, good enough for sixth in the always generous LEastern Conference, which puts them in line for, if the season ended today, a matchup against those highly excitable Toronto Raptors. Maybe Leisure Suit Larry just can't handle the pressure?

> What, exactly, changed here, other than getting used to the money he started making in 2013? Sanders was up for some Defensive Player of the Year consideration not very long ago, and was one of the Association's best shot blockers. He's 25, and not burdened with multiple rings on his fingers, or a hot actress on his arm that makes more than he does. Which leads us to...

> This doesn't speak well to head coach Jason Kidd's skills in motivating a roster. The plain and simple of the NBA is that you have to motivate men who have made life-changing money to ignore this fact and still care about winning and losing games. He's got his team playing hard and up-tempo, and maybe he's managed to isolate a cancer with getting Sanders out of the way for a while... or maybe, well, not.

> This is, of course, just the kind of thing that makes people froth at the mouth at the idea of a guaranteed contract. No one living paycheck to paycheck, as most of the country does, has anything close to a guaranteed deal, or the professional leverage inherent in this kind of employment. But, well, that's the reality of a game that's played on six continents, in a league that's also watched on them, and the relative scarcity of 7-foot tall men who can hang with the other good 7-foot tall men. Life's not fair, and you have to get over that, even when the getting over it includes moments like this. If the skills and longevity involved in playing football were as rare, you'd see the same thing happening in the NFL. And you do see the same thing happening in baseball. And it's not as if you get a rebate on Bucks tickets if the team manages to cut Sanders and recoup his salary.

>  Honestly, this is going to be the easiest pinata on the planet to swing at, but there's the seeds of a tragedy here, really. To get to the NBA, you have to survive a sluice that starts in junior high school, and you've won the athletic lottery a thousand times over. Sanders was able to string enough good defensive basketball together to secure a nice and healthy contract... but the money clearly isn't making him all that happy, and neither does his job. 

And he's got decades, and the money he's made isn't likely to last that long, to try to figure out what else to do with his time. This isn't going to end well.

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