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How Larry Sanders’ marijuana suspension cured his injury

Apr 10, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

Larry Sanders AP

In mid-March, the Bucks said Larry Sanders would miss the rest of the season due to a broke eye socket.

Last week, the NBA suspended Sanders five games for testing positive for marijuana.

After the drug test – nay, because of the drug test – the Bucks cleared Sanders to play.

Talk about the power of medicinal marijuana.

When Sanders was suspended, it was presumed he’d serve the penalty during the first five games of next season. The clock doesn’t start until a player is active.

But the Bucks want Sanders to serve the suspension this season, while they’re headed toward the No. 1 seed in the lottery. Next season, when there’s at least a chance they can make the playoffs, they’d rather have Sanders available.

Of course, this confirms the Bucks aren’t as interested in winning this season. (Call that tanking if you wish. I would.) Otherwise, they’d have Sanders available as soon as he were healthy enough to play. Even in a miserable season, he tops the end-of-bench alternative.

So, how did Milwaukee get away with this switcheroo?

Tom Ziller of SB Nation:

It turns out there’s a process by which players are physically cleared to play by the team and an independent league-appointed doctor before suspensions can be served. What happened in this case, according to a league official: the Bucks’ team doctor cleared Sanders, and sent his evaluation to the NBA. League officials reviewed and accepted the team doctor’s conclusion. Then an independent physician contracted by the league examined Sanders and confirmed the team doctor’s conclusion that Sanders is physically able to play.

After all of that, the NBA agreed that Sanders could be activated and begin serving his suspension.

Sanders began serving his suspension against the Pacers last night, and with four more Milwaukee games remaining this season, he’ll be in the clear next season.

It’s really a win for all parties.

The Bucks get a contributor when they want him to help them win, not while they’re competing for better lottery odds.

By serving his suspension this season – while he’s still on his rookie contract and before his four-year, $44 million extension kicks in – Sanders will forfeit just $138,789 in salary. Next season, it would have been $500,000. That’s a cool $361,211 staying in Sanders’ pocket.

And the league avoids harshly enforcing what increasingly seems like an antiquated penalty for using a substance now legalized in two states (and probably more soon). Sanders wasn’t playing again this season, so he wasn’t risking harming his team, either – except as it applies to this rule.

Which, it turns out, isn’t as strict as it appeared.

  1. sumkat - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    I’d heard that it can help people with bad eye sight.

    I’ve never heard that it can heal bone anywhere in the area of the eye

    Miracle drug indeed

    • trevor123698 - Apr 10, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      it can cure cancer. RUN FROM THE CURE BY RICK SIMPSON

      • sumkat - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:10 PM

        A claim I’ve heard before

        This is still a first that I’ve heard that it can speed the healing of, or regrow bone

    • trevor123698 - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:31 PM

      as long as blood is flowing to a joint it can be repaired. You can rebuild tendons ligaments and bones with proper nutrition. I take a product known as osteo fx and if you know anyone with arthritis and give it to them, I’d bet my life savings they get major relief and likely will be cured entirely. I actually had arthritis about 2 years ago and have beaten it. Unflavored beef gelatin is a product that will also help and if you type gelatin and arthritis into google you’ll read a bunch of people who have done it.

      My favorite information on this topic can be found by googling this phrase.

      “dr joel wallach arthritis and joint replacement”

      this information could have extended the careers of countless athletes. Gilbert Arenas and Brandon Roy is the main on that comes to mind with his bone to bone. If you gave me 10 minutes to talk to roy I’d have him on the path to being back in the NBA. sounds arrogant but its the truth. I could do it for him if he would listen to me

  2. ddpenny - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    $361,211 – that’s a lot of crack for Sanders to let go.

  3. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    How does this confirm that they aren’t interested in winning? All they did is get a doctor to lie so that he could be cleared and serve his suspension. He’s not actually able to play.

    • brutl - Apr 10, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      The dr wasn’t lying, the league sent their own doctor to confirm as much.
      Or do you believe he was suddenly fit to play with 5 games left of the season?

      • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        I think it’s generally accepted that there’s no way Larry Sanders is able to play this season. But then Dan Feldman said, “this confirms the Bucks aren’t as interested in winning this season.” I don’t understand how it proves anything, other than they want to have Sanders available for next season. It’s not like Larry Sanders is healthy and just sitting out for no reason… unless that actually IS what happened. But that’s not made clear by this article.

    • anotheryx - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      He is evaluated by the league as well, so he is (and was) actually able to play. This kinda suggest that he was able to play before the suspension, just team had no interest in doing so as he would actually make them better.

    • aboogy123456 - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      I agree, how does it confirm that they are tanking? Every team, whether they are tanking or not, would rather have Sanders next year than this year when they are out of contention. All it does is confirm that they are not tanking NEXT year. Typical logic by this author.

  4. therealhtj - Apr 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    “It’s really a win for all parties.”

    Unless you count the integrity of the league, it’s drug policy, and the Bucks training staff.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Apr 10, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Yep. I’m all in favor of decriminalizing, and it’s getting there, but it is still illegal in Wisconsin, it’s still against NBA policy, and they basically dropped the “punishment” this pinhead was correctly handed.

  5. gmfw7 - Apr 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    for the people questioning how this confirms they are tanking…it’s pretty simple. the league hired dr agreed with the bucks dr that he was physically able to play, and that they didn’t just clear him so that he could get the suspension out of the way. if you’re looking at it and asking how does wanting him to get the suspension out of the way now when they’re out of contention confirm that they are tanking then you’re looking at it wrong. of course that doesn’t prove they are tanking. what does prove they are tanking is the probable fact that he didn’t just get to a point where he could play, but rather he has been able to play for a little while now, but the bucks didn’t clear him because they wanted to mantain their best chance of continuing to lose. they only cleared him when they knew he wouldn’t be able to play anyway…at least that’s the way i see it. by the way, i’m a sixers fan and i see absolutely nothing wrong with tanking, at least until the nba (and nhl) get rid of those ridiculous lotteries.

  6. bux1022 - Apr 10, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Ganja is not a drug mon! Relax bwoy. The power of the miracle plant! 82 games a season, possible playoffs, your body needs to relax and unwind.

  7. chicagosports2014 - Apr 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    So they really was trying to tank?

  8. onbucky96 - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    The Bucks won’t win the lottery to get Wiggens. The fix is on, book it. Lakers will win the lottery. Hope they at least send Jack so we can see his smile/snear upon the”surprise” win.

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