By Ben Golliver
In a mocking show of fake support that will almost certainly draw a fine from the NBA, Bucks center Larry Sanders gave a "thumbs up" to each of the three officials after he was ejected from a 106-93 road loss to the Wizards on Wednesday night.
With 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Wizards leading 102-88, Sanders was hit with an offensive foul on a fairly typical block/charge call. Wizards guard John Wall appeared to sneak in and draw the charge, but Sanders felt that Wall did not get his feet outside of the protected circle and therefore should have been whistled for a defensive foul. Sanders received two technical fouls back-to-back as he disputed the call, earning himself an ejection.
On his way off of the Verizon Center court, Sanders made a point of turning to look at the three officials -- Bennett Salvatore, Bennie Adams and Kevin Cutler -- before offering each an exaggerated and sarcastic "thumbs up" gesture. To execute the three-thumb salute, Sanders actually spun in a full 360 circle, which was a nice flourish. Sanders then topped it all off with a "technical foul" signal of his own before finally leaving the court. He departed with 17 points (on 8-for-13 shooting), 11 rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 29 minutes.
The Journal Sentinel reported his postgame explanation.
"I really want to win," Sanders said of his response. "I want to gain some momentum going into the playoffs and seal our position. I felt like we fought hard but we didn't play our best. There were a lot of things I was frustrated with."
Sanders, 24, is averaging 9.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and a league-leading 3.2 blocks per game this season.
Milwaukee, the East's No. 8 seed, dropped to 32-31 with the loss. Washington improved to 21-42 with the win. In October, former Bucks coach Scot Skiles left Sanders at home during a preseason game on the road because of a "team conduct issue." Sanders has been ejected two other times this season.