Gerald Henderson the Elder

Gerald Henderson a native of Richmond Virginia played for Virginia Commonweath University.  I watched him play for VCU, and even worked out at the same gym.  (back then it was a Nautillus Club and there were only a couple in the Richmond area so lots of people were members.)  We were all excited when he was drafted in 1978 and in my family at least, we were most excited when he started playing for the Boston Celtics.

Today, his son, Gerald, plays for Duke as a key player in their NCAA tournament run.  This weekend the Hendersons return to Boston: Gerald the Elder to revisit the town where he made his most famous play and Gerald the Younger to try to lead Duke into the Round of eight – and maybe the final four.  All this will take place in the building that is often referred to as the New Garden, the real Boston Garden long torn down to make way for an area that has changed names multiple times.  The New York Times has an interesting article about father and son.

Twenty-five years after Gerald Henderson stole the ball, his son of the same name is going to Boston, scene of the crime.

What was that crime?

Go back to May 31, 1984, Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals, the Celtics facing the unthinkable prospect of losing the first two games at home to Magic Johnson and the Lakers. With 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Lakers had a 2-point lead and the ball in the backcourt.

Henderson is a little fuzzy on whom he was supposed to guard, on what exactly came next, but he will never forget James Worthy, after taking a pass from Magic, floating one to the right side, toward Byron Scott.

For years, Scott would rue his rookie mistake of not moving to the ball, of letting it come to him. Henderson seized his parquet moment, angling in for the interception, deflecting the ball with his left hand, soaring to the basket to lay it in.

Resuscitated, the Celtics won in overtime, 124-121. The series would end with Magic overdribbling the Lakers into a Game 7 defeat in Boston, where Bird’s triumph over Johnson was illuminated like a darkened Garden full of victory cigars.

The son, who bears a striking facial resemblance to his father, goes to Boston in the 25th anniversary year. Maybe he celebrates by stealing the show.

Of course, I didn’t pick Duke to get to the final four, but they are an ACC team and even if they mess up my bracket I won’t be too unhappy is Gerald the Younger leads them to an upset of Pittsburg.

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