Thursday, October 8, 2009

DUKE’S HENDERSON WELCOMED TO NBA WITH CAROLINA BLUE

Charlotte Bobcats have a few North Carolina connections of the Tar Heel variety. Michael Jordan is part owner, point guard Raymond Felton was a member of the team that won the 2005 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball National Championship, head coach Larry Brown is a UNC guy as are two of his assistants (including the legendary Phil Ford).

Safe to say, rookie Gerald Henderson recently of Duke was likely to catch some flak when he was drafted by the Bobcats.

For starters, the veterans are making Henderson carry a light blue North Carolina backpack everywhere he goes.

All the rookies have backpacks that go with them on trips, to dinner and other places. Pink Disney-themed backpacks are popular this year but given the heavy Tar Heel influence among the Bobcats Henderson got a Carolina blue backpack.

To make it more special, it's autographed by Felton.

"I try to match it with stuff, but I don't have a lot of Carolina blue," Henderson said after practice yesterday.

On the court in Cleveland on Tuesday night in the first semi-official minute of his NBA career, Henderson enjoyed another welcome from a NBA veteran – this one from L.S.U.

Henderson, a former All-American, came off a screen and turned the corner, the basket in his sights.

Problem was, somebody saw him coming. Somebody named Shaquille O'Neal.

"I was, like, this isn't going to be good," Henderson said.

O'Neal swallowed Henderson's dunk attempt, fouling the rookie hard in the process.

Henderson made one of two free throws and the first of what will likely be several professional baptisms had occurred.

"It was one of those welcome-to-the-NBA moments," Henderson said.

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