By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Apr 09, 2013 at 5:31 AM

How long is it supposed to take for someone to become a Milwaukee icon, because whatever record is, Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders is going to smash it.

For two seasons, Sanders was this tall, rangy, powder keg of potential. He averaged only 13.5 minutes per game, but his 36-minute averages of 10.6 points, 8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks hinted at some brilliance.

Then, this season happened.

There were the 10 blocks against Minnesota. There are the 26 double-doubles. There were the unintentionally(?) hilarious ejections.

There is the now-signature salute to the dearly departed ball swatted out of play. And, of course, there are the power dunks off lobs and shovel passes, and the ensuing ohsoclosetoatechnical swing on the rim that ignites the BMO Harris Bradley Center crowd like no other.

On social media there was a quest to find him a suitable nickname (it seems like Colonel is used most), and he’s now known as LARRY SANDERS!, a style change that is beginning to trump the Associated Press’ preferred constitution (see this Grantland screencap).

Now, he has his own website – – to coincide with the Bucks’ campaign to earn SANDERS! votes for NBA Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.

Part of this fun campaign was sending a custom set of Larry Blocks to various media around the country in an effort to educate them on the season SANDERS! has had. The Bucks’ public relations staff developed the concept, and the marketing and interactive departments got involved as well.

Bucks graphic designer Luis Trinh Nava designed the box and also assisted with some of the features on the website.

"That’s wonderful," SANDERS! said. "They sat there and put those blocks together. Just the effort they put into it was amazing. I’m really grateful for the organization for doing that for me."

There’s no better player to center this type of campaign around, either. SANDERS! is fun-loving, crowd-pleasing, quick with a smile and possesses a sense of humor – all while keeping his humility.

He knows one of the reasons the Bucks have been able to build this campaign around him these last two weeks of the regular season is because the team has clinched a playoff spot.

"That’s where the focus is," he said. "Keep the focus on winning games, trying to be successful as a team and all the individual accolades will fall into place."

It will be awhile before the NBA announces any of its regular-season awards, and SANDERS! may or may not win either of the two the Bucks are pushing him for. It doesn’t really matter, though – he’s already cemented the foundation of icon status in the hearts of Bucks fans.


Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.