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Welcome home Gerald Henderson

03.25.09 at 4:31 pm ET
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Gerald Henderson is hoping to have the same success in Boston that his dad did.

We chronicled his father’s most famous moment when he stole the ball from James Worthy in Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals. Now let’s hear it from the man himself. Assuming he can stay awake for the 10 p.m. tip-off, Gerald Henderson will start at point guard for Duke on Thursday night against Villanova.

There are several ironies at work here.

First is the fact that his game will be played in the home building of the Celtics but not on the parquet or with Celtics banners above him because of NCAA regulations, meaning he can’t pay tribute to one of the banners his father helped put up in the rafters.

“They took the banners down. They took them down,” Henderson said with some genuine remorse. ” It’s pretty nice to be playing in Boston, where my dad had his best years as a pro. It’s pretty cool to be playing in the same place as him. I’m sure he’ll have fun coming back here and hopefully watching me having some of the same success that he had.”

Then there’s the fact that he grew up in Merion, Pennsylvania, right in Villanova’s backyard and nearly played for the Wildcats since Nova coach Jay Wright was hot on the recruiting trail.

“In the end Duke just ended up being the right situation for me,” Henderson said. “Villanova is a great place. I grew up around there. I have cousins and my sister is a Villanova alum. I have a lot of friends that go there, even on the team now. Coach Wright is great in recruiting and has always been good to my family. And Duke just ended up being the right place.”

Wright knew Henderson’s father ever since Henderson played for the Sixers when Wright was an assistant under then Nova coach Rollie Massimino. They stayed in touch as Wright moved onto Hofstra.

“Big Gerald brought him to Conshohockon, a Philly (amateur) tournament, nine or ten years old,” Wright recalled. “And he introduced him to me, This is my son, he’s going to play for you some day. I was at Hofstra. Little did I know I would be back at Villanova and recruiting him. He went to the same school my children went to, an Episcopal academy, kindergarten through 12, all at the same school. When he was in ninth grade I said, he’s going to be special.

“But he was one of those guys that was very athletic, but didn’t have his game refined yet. And he was playing a lot of golf then, too. So he didn’t totally commit to basketball. I think what you’ve seen now is a guy over three years that’s committed himself, he’s been well coached. His game is refined, it’s efficient. And I tell you what, this is a guy that’s still got a lot of room to grow, is going to get a lot better,” Wright said.

Read More: Celtics, Duke, Gerald Henderson, March Madness
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