Larry Sanders is attempting a basketball comeback at the age of 27 after missing the game following his retirement.
“I miss being on a team, man,” Sanders said on the phone last week. “I miss going to war with my teammates and fighting against another team and giving my all out there and affecting the game. My children are getting older. I have a boy and a girl, and my son talks about it all the time now, he misses me playing. Giving them something to cheer for, and my family. Having my name on my back, our name on my back. There’s a lot of value in that, there’s a lot of strength in that, for my whole family. Me being that person for them brings joy to me.”
Sanders has worked out for the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. Sanders also had a group workout in Miami.
“I would say I worked really hard to get to where I was,” Sanders said. “I worked extremely hard. I started playing basketball when I was 17 years old. Things kind of hit me fast. It was hard to manage. I would say I’m more mature. I’m better. I’m at a higher level. I’m a better basketball player. I’ve taken that time to establish those things and get my family in order -- not to say everything’s perfect. I took the time that I needed.
“To convince someone by words, I don’t know what more I can say. The action’s going to be everything. If a team’s willing to take that risk on me, I’m also taking that risk on them, that they’re going to be able to support me and be in my corner. We’re going to be able to understand each other. I believe there’s a team out there that’s like that, that would love a guy like me in their system.”
Sanders became one of the NBA's best young rim protectors before he began to experience issues in his personal life. Sanders says he didn't start smoking marijuana until he arrived in the NBA at 22 and used it to cope.
“I was young in the league,” he says. “I was using it to handle where I was going. I wasn’t really managing my life at a high level. That was helping me to cope. But in hindsight, while I was coping on a day to day, on a larger scale, it was hindering. Because there were other skills that I needed to learn. Now, being away from marijuana, I’m able to look back on it and understand it and indulge in these other coping mechanisms. I’m older now, too. I feel my brain’s more developed. There’s different things that, chemically, are put in place now, that make me, I feel like a stronger individual, where a crutch doesn’t seem as appealing as it did before. There’s a lot of value in me learning things on my own and dealing with issues head on.”