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So who’s really the bigger victim?
The Milwaukee Bucks recently paid Larry Sanders millions of dollars to walk out of their locker room and leave and take his wildly unpredictable mood swings and erratic post play with him. But, his all-star caliber numbers aside, are guys like Larry Sanders ever truly welcomed in any pro sports’ locker room?
Guys like Sanders would be those who don’t always seamlessly fit the bill that goes once a team has ponied up to pay a player the millions they all stereotypically crave. Guys like Sanders would be those who require a little more maintenance, a little more cajoling and TLC before they can sometimes transform themselves into the on-court beast that make them worthy.
Yes, it’s true, no one should ever be more concerned about the emotional welfare of Larry Sanders than Larry Sanders. But it’s just as obvious that if his bosses cared enough to put him before the right people and in the right circles to get him the kind of help he so desperately needs could have meant half the victory. That part of the equation would have come as easily for management as grabbing all those rebounds once did for their 6-foot-11, 235-pound rising star.
In the wake of his nightmarish breakup with the only NBA team he has ever known and loved, Sanders recently stepped outside the box to admit he suffers from both anxiety and depression and is now receiving treatment for it. He adds the marijuana he tested positive for last April that got him a five-game suspension was at least partly aimed at helping him deal with his symptoms.
“I actually entered into Rogers Memorial Hospital, and it was a program for anxiety and depression, mood swings,” he told ESPN. “It taught me a lot about myself. It taught me about what’s important and where I would want to devote my time and energy.”
Apparently, sharing such personnel truths proved cathartic for the 26-year-old, fifth-year veteran, as days later he penned his own first-person account of his odyssey for ThePlayersTribune.com.
“I knew people would speculate,” he wrote. “But the crazy thing to me is that people are making it about the money. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the chance to play in the NBA. But at the same time, that’s not what fuels me. It’s never been how I define success. Happiness isn’t behind a golden gate. It’s a scary thing to walk away from security, but I’m more afraid of living with the what if.”
So, Larry Sanders did the only thing he felt he could do. He walked away from the NBA. He now finds himself a man without a team, but clearly he’s never been more about the Team Sanders, and doing what’s in his own best interest to the man he insists he wants to be.
“I love basketball, and if I get to a point where I feel I’m capable of playing basketball again, I will,” he said. “I’ve had to make the difficult decision to follow my intuition and allow myself the space and time to explore my true purpose in life.”
Through it all, Sanders insists he has just one regret. “I wish I could have said goodbye formally to the Bucks,” he said. “I want them to know it was never about them.”
Maybe, but that hardly makes the organization a victim, at least not the only one.
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