By Ben Golliver
The NBA announced Sunday that Bucks center Larry Sanders has been fined $50,000 for "using a derogatory and offensive term and publicly criticizing the officials" following a 107-94 loss to the Heat on Friday.
The Journal-Sentinel reported that Sanders took exception to the officiating after being ejected for the second consecutive game and his fourth time this season.
"I can imagine it's hard for a referee to ref a Miami Heat game," Sanders said. "It's hard for me to take that sometimes. I feel like things are kind of swayed. Maybe (I should) care a little less."
With 2:45 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Heat leading 99-88, Sanders was called for a defensive foul while defending LeBron James. Sanders was then ejected after he received back-to-back technical fouls protesting the foul. During that protest, Sanders "directed a derogatory and offensive term" towards the referees, the NBA announced.
Bucks interim coach Jim Boylan criticized Sanders' professionalism following the ejection, which came one day after he received two technical fouls and gave a sarcastic thumbs up sign to all three referees during a loss to the Wizards.
“You’re a professional athlete, and you have to behave like a professional,” Boylan said. “The referees don’t come in here with an agenda, for the most part. They come in here and ref the game.
“I know all those guys. It doesn’t mean you can’t have an argument or a disagreement with one of them. That happens in the heat of the game. We’ll talk with Larry. Like I’ve said to Larry before, I don’t mind him playing with emotion as long as it doesn’t hurt the team. Getting ejected from two games in a row, it’s not good for our team and it’s not good for Larry.”
The NBA league office shares some responsibility for this outburst after not fining Sanders for his antics during the loss to the Wizards. What message was Sanders supposed to take after receiving no punishment for his obvious display of disrespect to the officials on Thursday? Finding him involved in another referee-related confrontation just 24 hours later was one of the least shocking developments of the season.
Sanders, 24, is averaging 9.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and a league-leading 3.1 blocks per game this season. Milwaukee, the East’s No. 8 seed, is 33-32. In October, former Bucks coach Scot Skiles left Sanders at home during a preseason game on the road because of a “team conduct issue.”