Home Made: Gerald Henderson has taken advantage of NBA bloodlines to become a very promising player.
by Adam Figman | @afigman
SLAM: Tell us about where you grew up.
GH: I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, around where Kobe grew up. Not in Lower Merion, but in the Villanova area. Then I moved out to Plymouth Meeting [PA] when I was 11 or 12.
SLAM: Your dad [Gerald Henderson Sr] was an NBA player, so you must have gotten into the game early.
GH: Yeah, I’ve got pictures of myself when I was 3 or 4 years old with a basketball [See above!—Ed.]. So I’ve always had it in my hands and was always up to play.
SLAM: You and Pops ever go 1-on-1?
GH: When I was younger he used to play me and always used to beat me, but that made me better.
SLAM: He never let you win?
GH: No. He used to always want me to be competitive and work. So when it was time for me to beat him, I was gonna beat him. In the meantime, I was gonna work on my game and try really hard to get good and be able to beat him. It was a learning thing.
SLAM: Along with bball, you played golf in high school. Do you still keep that up?
GH: I haven’t this summer; I’ve been dealing with a hip injury. But yeah, I used to play a lot. I will next summer when I’m healthy—get back on it and try to get my game up a little bit.
SLAM: Was there a specific point when you realized basketball could be a legitimate career path for you?
GH: Yeah. I was kinda doing both [basketball and golf] for a while, and once I decided basketball was the sport that I wanted to focus on, I started playing AAU and got some national exposure. Then I kind of saw it as something that could be a career for me. I played AAU with the Tim Thomas Playaz, and I played with a great group of guys, [including] Wayne Ellington, who’s my best friend and plays with the Timberwolves, Earl Clark, who plays with the Magic, and a whole bunch of other guys who I’ve become really good friends with.
SLAM: After you were drafted by Charlotte, were you excited that you’d be staying in NC, or were you hoping you could go play elsewhere?
GH: No, I was excited about being in the NBA. That was my biggest thing. It was a blessing to be in the position that I was in.
SLAM: Have you developed a relationship with MJ over the past couple of years?
GH: I have. Michael Jordan’s been a great influence on my basketball career. Just to have a guy like him around is something that you need. Michael has a different mind for the game, which is why he’s so great. And he teaches me little things, things that make me better.
SLAM: I saw a video where you beat him in H-O-R-S-E. How much crap did he give you for that?
GH: [Laughs] Well, he hasn’t challenged me another time to play. So I haven’t heard much about it.
SLAM: Maybe he’s scared.
GH: Umm, I don’t wanna go out on a limb and say that. But I am waiting for a rematch.
SLAM: We can let him know. Has he ever suited up and run with you guys during practice?
GH: Yeah, he did a few times last year. He can still play. Other than him being out of shape—he hasn’t played for five or six years, so you’re gonna be out of shape—his skills are still there. It’s amazing.
SLAM: Growing up, who was the one guy you always had to watch?
GH: First it was Michael Jordan, then it was Kobe, then it was Dwyane Wade. With Michael, when [I was] a kid, everyone’s favorite player was Michael Jordan. He was the only person like himself during that time—only person like himself ever, really. Then Kobe just brought a certain kind of swagger, and he was younger and Michael was on his way out and Kobe was that next guy. He was from the same area that I was from, so I connected with him pretty well. He had a father that played in the NBA just like me, so I could relate to him. Then Dwyane Wade, he had the best aspects of both of those players—the athleticism was like Michael’s, almost, and that high skill level like Kobe. All three of ’em played my position, so I just tried to steal their moves.