A day after learning that he would not face criminal charges stemming from a weekend altercation at a Milwaukee nightclub, Larry Sanders did exactly what you would hope and expect him to do: he apologized.
Wearing a splint on his injured right thumb, Sanders addressed the media following Friday's Bucks practice:
"I want to start by saying I put myself in a bad situation over the weekend. I didn't make the best decisions down the stretch," Sanders said. "I'd like to apologize to my fans here, Senator Kohl, who I will talk to directly. I've talked to the team and apologized to them just for shedding negative light on our team, on our organization. That's not what we are about at all, that's not who we are, that's not what we stand for.
"I offer my apologies to everyone, but especially the fans. I know they put a lot on me and they count on me a lot. For everyone I let down, I'm going to get better, I'm going to be better, I'm going to get better at this on and off the court. I'm going to come back better. I just thank everyone for their concerns and for being patient with me."
Bucks.com has video of Sanders' statement, and all in all Sanders seems about as sincere as you'd hope he would be. He's saying the right things, and not surprisingly so is Larry Drew. Via Andrew Gruman:
"It's just unfortunate that he's had some issues in which he would be the first to admit that those are areas he has to get better. I want to try to help him get better. I want to try to do what I can do to help him.
"I can see he's trying to do right, and he wants to do right. He doesn't want to put himself in those types of situations. As I've said before, I'll be there for him. I'm 24-7 when it comes to helping any of my players. My door is always open, my phone is always on."
I can't say I'm that concerned about Sanders getting into more trouble off the court; for all his on-court combustibility, he's never been known as a problem off it, and on top of that you'd expect this week's drama will serve as a rather valuable lesson learned going forward.
So at this point it's all about putting the recent distractions behind him and rediscovering the focus and managed intensity that served him so well last season. Thus far Sanders hasn't been the same guy we all fell in love with last year, but there's no reason he can't get back to being the all-world defensive stud he proved he could be during the 12/13 season.
But first thing's first: getting him back on the court. There's been no indication yet of Sanders facing disciplinary action for last weekend's extracurricular activities, though Sanders was also sporting a splint on his injured right thumb Friday as well. The Bucks have insisted the injury occurred during Saturday's loss to the Raptors rather than during the late night hours that followed, but either way it may prevent him from suiting up Saturday night when the Mavericks roll into town. Drew indicated that Sanders wouldn't play until he could effectively, you know, catch the ball [no wonder he barely played in his first two years in the league, eh?], and whether that happens with the splint is anyone's guess at the moment.
Ersan Ilyasova (ankle) is another question mark, which means the Bucks may once again have to lean heavily on reserve big men Zaza Pachulia, John Henson and Ekpe Udoh. That strategy worked just fine on Wednesday vs. Cleveland, as the Bucks finally found a starting lineup that could hold its own despite missing 60% of their presumed starting five. Aside from usual starters O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler, Pachulia and Henson started up front and continued their strong start to the season while rookie Nate Wolters continues to surprise with his mature all-around game.