Milwaukee Bucks big man Larry Sanders has had one of the most disappointing starts to the season imaginable. After signing a new four-year contract extension this summer, one of the league's best interior defenders saw his crunch-time minutes dwindle under new head coach Larry Drew, complained about it to reporters after just three games, was investigated for his part in a bar brawl (and was not charged), apparently injured his right thumb in that same fight, and had surgery to repair thumb ligament damage that will keep him out for approximately six weeks. When the news of his surgery broke on Monday, the only silver lining was that his absence from the court might give him the opportunity to regroup and salvage a season that turned sour very quickly.
Just one day after that announcement, Sanders has found himself on the wrong side of a news story once again. As reported by Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sanders was cited twice last January for keeping dogs outside in the freezing cold:
Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders, who was involved in an altercation at a Milwaukee nightclub on Nov. 3, was cited twice last January for cruelty to animals, according to Municipal Court records. Sanders paid a total of $330 for the two municipal citations.
According to court records, a neighbor called police to say Sanders kept his two German shepherd puppies outside in the cold for hours without proper shelter, food and water.
The person said she tried to speak with Sanders about his dogs, but felt intimidated and was told by Sanders to leave his property. The neighbor said Sanders told herhe [sic] was going to call the police if she returned, court records say.
On Jan. 3, police attempted to contact Sanders but were unsuccessful. An officer went to Sanders' home in the 3200 block of N. Lake Dr., and saw the two puppies in the backyard with no shelter, food or water. The officer noted that the temperature outside was 17 degrees.
Police notified the Milwaukee Domestic Animal Control Center to retrieve the dogs. An employee of the center determined the dogs "were in harm and needed to be removed," according to the police report. [...]
Michael Hart, who represented Sanders in the nightclub incident, said Sanders was not in town when police were summoned about the dogs. Hart said that when Sanders got back to town and tried to pick up the dogs, he was given the citations.
Although these accounts appear to differ slightly, the report does Sanders no favors. Even if he had been out of town — Sanders played in Bucks home games on both January 2 and January 4 — it's still his responsibility to ensure that the dogs receive proper care. The best case scenario here is a bad thing for Sanders' reputation.
Of course, the fact that these incidents occurred months ago is not immaterial. While Sanders is still an extremely promising player at only 24 years old, the events of the last week could serve as a sign that he has to become more mature to regain the full trust of the Bucks organization. These citations were issued well before his most recent issues, and we can only consider them as another blow to Sanders' image because they're coming to light at a particularly bad time for the player. It's not as if this activity occurred right after he got home from surgery.
With any luck, this will be the last time we hear about a negative incident involving Sanders for quite some time. He's too exciting a player to be at the center of so much unfortunate news.
- - - - - - -