In today's paper and on the blog I wrote about Udonis Haslem's heart-felt talk with Larry Sanders, which centered around the importance of Sanders controlling his emotions during games. Sanders was ejected from games twice against the Heat this season and was ejected five times overall, including three times in the span of 10 days in March.
In all, Sanders was hit with 14 technical fouls this season (tied for second most in the league), which resulted in him racking up over $100,000 in fines from the NBA. How Sanders keeps his emotions in check could be an important aspect of the Heat-Bucks first-round playoff series. I caught up with Sanders after the Bucks' shootaround on Sunday morning at AmericanAirlines Arena and he opened up about his conversation with Haslem. (Scroll down the blog to read about the details of that meeting.)
“Udonis is a guy that I grew up watching, being a Florida guy and him being in Miami and playing here his whole career," Sanders said. "It was good to hear that from him, him saying, ‘Yeah, I’ve been in this position. I’ve been here before.’
"You get riled up with controlling your emotions and stuff like that. And a couple veterans in the league kind of sit me down and talk to me sometimes because I think they see my passion and they see that I want to win but it has to be under control. So, it’s good that they want to help in that sense.”
A third-year player out of VCU, Sanders played for Port St. Lucie before joining coach Anthony Grant (now at Alabama). Grant, a Miami native, was an assistant at Florida when Haslem played for the Gators. Sanders acknowledged that playing under control in the playoffs "will definitely be a challenge when everything is magnified." No doubt referees will be watching Sanders closely in the first round to prevent physical situations from getting out of hand."It’s going to be an emotional challenge, keeping my head focused on everything and on the game, but it will be good," Sanders said. "It will be experience. How else really can you learn unless you get put in those situations? So, I’ll learn from my mistakes. I learn from what I do well, but just try to focus on channeling that emotion.”