Home > Sports > An open letter to Duke's Gerald Henderson

An open letter to Duke's Gerald Henderson

Hey Gerald,

I know this is a tough night for ya. You know, any game you lose to a hated rival is pretty tough and all. Trust me. I feel your pain, and not in a smarmy, Bill Clinton way. As a UNC alum, I die a little inside whenever the Dookies take one from us. But, too bad you left your fans and your school without any dignity or pride following this “L.”

Honestly, I wanted to write something about that foul on Tyler Hansbrough immediately after it happened. It just looked so… blatant! We see the Carolina player — the leading scorer for the soon-to-be-winning team — go up for a shot and then get elbowed to the ground, only to pop back up with an extremely bloody face. The whole thing smacked of retaliation and frustration. Unfortunately it’s not on youtube, yet, or I’d send you a link so you could watch it over and over again. [Update: it’s on youtube… video of Henderson’s foul… thanks to the good people at truthaboutduke.com]

Anyway, the reason I chose to hold off on this screed is that I wanted my wife, a dispassionate observer in this whole thing, to view the tape. You see, she’s a Texas A&M alum who views basketball as a pleasant diversion until spring football practice. I was beginning to calm down a bit, but when she viewed it and said, “Oh yeah, that was intentional,” I started typing. Because no matter what the journalists said after the game, I agreed with the missus. So now, I have my equivalent of the UN agreeing with me.

Gerald, you’ve said all the right things, but c’mon… was that a hard foul, a “combative, flagrant foul” (as the refs called it) or just a thuggish outbreak that should leave a mark of shame on your royal blue uniform? But heck, that last scenario is highly unlikely. I mean, Christian Laettner… a prone Kentucky player… stomp stomp… we’ve been there before.

Here’s why I’m troubled, for you G, for Coach K and for the Duke program. Something about this scenario doesn’t smell right. For instance, I have some questions:

  • Why, when attempting to block a shot, was your elbow leading the way? Your forearm wasn’t even extended, for chrissakes. I guess next time I try to block a shot in rec b-ball, I should lead with the elbow and swing downward. I’ve seen that move before, but it’s often carried out by a guy wearing tights and mask who calls himself “El Diablo” or “Nature Boy.” Perhaps it’s just me.
  • Why, if Coach K didn’t believe that it was intentional, didn’t he lobby the refs at all afterwards to mitigate the punishment? Was it because he believed the action was reprehensible, like he should? The man’s taken the art of dog-cussing officials to new and scary levels. And he holds his tongue – completely – here?
  • After the game, why did K make one of the most half-hearted and devious apologies of all time, and I’m including Terrell Owens in this. “I know there was not the intent to [hurt Hansbrough]. And the game was over before that. I mean the outcome of the game, let’s put it that way. That’s unfortunate, too, that those people were in the game in that play.” So, K, it’s Roy’s fault for having Tyler in the game? Replace K with Isiah Thomas, and tell me how this is much different from the Knicks’ retaliation on the Nuggets a few months ago (for which Isiah was loudly and rightly criticized).
  • By the way, why are people paying Coach K for leadership and life-coaching advice?
  • Oh, and why didn’t you look the least bit upset to be thrown out of the game, Gerald? If I had inadvertently taken out another player, I would have shown some emotion. Maybe sought out the other coach to apologize. Maybe tried to explain things to the ref. You sat there with a cool, detached air, as if you expected the punishment… ergo agreeing to it.
  • And, was there something else going on between the benches after the previous foul, when Scheyer fouled Bobby Frasor with about 18 seconds left. I saw Coach Williams yelling something in the general direction of the Duke bench. Was he yelling “Bush! Bush!” as in that’s a bush-league foul? Naturally, I’m probably just making it up, but I noticed that, and then I saw what happened :04 seconds on the clock later.

It will be interesting to see how the court of public opinion weighs on this one. Dook is typically above reproach for things done on the hardcourt. And if we go by the the knee-jerk reaction from Billy Packer — who was kind enough to stop eating tapioca pudding and reminiscing about his days breaking up the Shays’ rebellion — I’m the only lunatic that thinks that the act was at best, barbaric and at worst, condoned.

G, I don’t know you, besides the fact that you went to high school with UNC’s Wayne Ellington and that you scored a career high tonight (memorable game, eh?). But, after watching the tape again and again, I can’t get it out of my head. Something’s wrong. And maybe the ACC will look into it more closely.

Just ask yourself, would you be catching so much slack if you were a Florida State player committing that foul? A Fresno State player? A Valdosta State player? Methinks there would be much less latitude if the assailant wasn’t wearing a Duke uniform.

Again, it might just be me. We’ll see how I feel in the morning. Much like Tyler’s doing after his impromptu nose job.

Sleep tight, G. You should have a lot to think about when you crawl under the covers tonight. I know I will.

Categories: Sports
  1. March 5, 2007 at 11:50 am

    By the way, my boy Nipsey found this quote from Coach K last year about a similar situation (GMU’s Jim Larranaga’s decision to suspend Tony Skinn after an on-court incident). Read and savor the irony:

    “It sends chills through my entire body to hear what Jim did,” Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “Honestly, if he was here right now, I’d give him a big hug. We need more coaches to have the courage to step up in situations like this and say to our kids, ‘That’s wrong; I’m not making excuses for you.’ If I were in the same situation, I hope I’d be gutsy enough and strong enough to do the same thing, but I can’t swear to you that I would… I can’t tell you how much I admire him for doing this.”


  2. tarheelbaby
    March 5, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    It all leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Just read an article confirming that Hansbrough’s nose is broken. It was a cheap shot, and it was dirty. While I don’t think Henderson meant to injure Hansbrough as badly as he did, I do think he intended a hard foul. In any circumstance, it is unacceptable.

    K’s comments were out of line, when he questioned why Hansbrough was still on the court. His starters were on the court, but that’s not okay for UNC? Double standard, much? Carolina was leading, the “game was decided”, so they should just give up and roll over? If K thinks the game was decided, that means Duke had given up. Too bad for them. Carolina hustles, they don’t give up. If the game was decided, why were there 3 Duke players defending Hansbrough? If K wanted his walk-ons in, why didn’t he substitute when he called the timeout at :50 left in the game?

    I’m uninterested in Duke and Coach K’s spin on the situation. I would be interested in some sincere apologies and honesty. Pipe dream, I know.
    Go to hell, Duke.

  3. Robert
    March 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    There are multiple clips of the foul. The one that really makes G look bad is the one that shows him about 15ft. away when he begins his rush into the lane propelling himself into Tyler, in a manner more similar to a self defense move than a vertical leap as an attempt at a rebound. When G said he didn’t mean to hurt Tyler he was lying. He may not have meant to injure him, but he definitely meant to hurt him. I just hope he is content with the scenery in Durham for the next ? years. Because if he is caught alone outside of his little dook blew haven he may find out just how passionately some people feel about having one of their own being criminally assaulted with such a cheap shot under the auspices of another “unfortunate” situation involving Mike Kryshitski. You gotta think these punks are smirking behind closed doors, giving G a figurative if not literal high-five for drawing blood from one of UNC’s marquee players on UNCs home court.

  4. Robert
    March 6, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Jim Rome’s comments from the Jim Rome Show on ESPN, copied from JimRome.com:

    After seeing Duke’s Gerald Henderson bust Tyler Hansbrough in the beak and hearing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski deny it was cheap shot, by saying, “That’s not the way he plays and not the way we play”, you have to wonder exactly what game Coach K was watching. Because that is the way Henderson plays and it is the way Coach K’s team plays. How do I know, because I have two eyes.

    Did Coach K order the code red? I really don’t know. But I know this; they got hammered by Carolina…again. And they didn’t like that Hansbrough was still on the floor late in the game and they were looking to send a message. Well, they did, with the message being, we’re not nearly the program we used to be either in ability or class.

    Krzyzewski essentially admitted it was intentional when he said, “The game was over before that. I mean the outcome of the game, let’s put it that way. That’s unfortunate, too, that those people were in the game in that play. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”

    If your guy wasn’t still on the floor at the end of the game, maybe my guy wouldn’t have jacked-him in the grill. Ie. It was deliberate.

    One more question, K, if the game was over, why were you still calling time out with 50 seconds to go? If the game was over, why did you still have Hnderson on the floor. The answer is, because the game wasn’t over, and that’s why Roy Williams still had Hansbrough on the floor. You’re program is down, your team isn’t what it once was, and Carolina rolled you up again. You need to own that. And stop telling us that sort of thing doesn’t happen with your program, when it just did and everyone saw it.

  5. Robert
    March 6, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    How did dook end the Wake blowout? Reply
    0:49 38-59 Josh McRoberts made Two Point Dunk Shot.
    0:34 Ishmael Smith missed Three Point Jumper. 38-59
    0:34 38-59 Josh McRoberts Defensive Rebound.
    0:08 38-62 Greg Paulus made Three Point Jumper.
    0:05 Ishmael Smith missed Two Point Layup. 38-62
    0:05 Ishmael Smith Offensive Rebound. 38-62
    0:04 Ishmael Smith made Two Point Layup. 40-62
    Wow! McBob and Paulus in at the end of a twenty point blow-out and NOBODY bloodies them for running up the score? No K-apologies for leaving his starters in and having them firing a three when the game is already decided?

  1. March 7, 2007 at 9:18 pm
  2. February 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm
  3. January 4, 2010 at 1:02 am

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