Tyler Hansbrough’s Silent Revenge on Gerald Henderson
Big thanks to West Cary Wellness in Cary, NC
Listen, a lot has changed since March 4th, 2007. You may be thinking, “I thought we were trying to forget the waning years of the Bush presidency.” However, for UNC fans worldwide, that day stands in infamy.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
It was the final game of the regular season. The 14th-ranked Blue Devils came into the Dean Dome with the goal of upsetting the 8th-ranked Tar Heels.
Tyler Hansbrough had other plans.
The North Carolina legend finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds as the Heels won 86-72 and swept the Blue Devils.
Sounds like a great game, right? It was, except for the atrocity that occurred with 14 seconds left in the game.
Hansbrough was at the line shooting free throws. He missed the 2nd, and in classic Tyler Hansbrough fashion, found a way to get the offensive rebound. When he went back up to score, Satan himself possessed Duke guard Gerald Henderson to maliciously come down and elbow Hansbrough in the face.
Blood poured from his nose as the crowd stood in disbelief at an unnecessary foul with 14 seconds left in an already-decided basketball game.
The good news for North Carolina fans is that Tyler Hansbrough doesn’t go down like that. In fact, ever since that day, Tyler Hansbrough began a three-tiered plan to get back at the aforementioned Blue Devil.
Let’s recap this three-step process.
1. Out-Perform Gerald
Tyler Hansbrough may be the only player in college basketball history to have an arena named after him while still playing.
Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, previously known as Cameron Indoor Stadium, felt like a second home to Psycho T. One of only handful of players to ever go undefeated at Duke, Hansbrough was the leading man on the 2006-2009 UNC class to do just that.
In his final act at Hansbrough Indoor Stadium, Psycho T led the Heels to 101 points and a 14-point win. He even hit the improbable, perfectly-timed dagger three that sealed the deal for North Carolina.
Hansbrough and the 2008-2009 Heels then ran roughshod over the college basketball world in March Madness and won the NCAA Championship. They didn’t just win, they absolutely dominated the competition.
Even more than the wins, Hansbrough is well-represented in the college basketball record books. Hansbrough is the 13th highest scoring player of all-time and has the most made and attempted free throws in NCAA basketball history. And, of course, Tyler Hansbrough passed former Duke anathema J.J. Redick on the all-time ACC scoring list.
Hansbrough’s jersey is in the rafters at the Dean Dome and is one of the most famous college basketball players of the 21st century.
Gerald Henderson, on the other hand, was a pretty good player who is only remembered in college for elbowing Tyler Hansbrough.
2. Dunk on Gerald
The NBA hasn’t led to major success for either Tyler Hansbrough or Gerald Henderson. Both players, however, have proven to be serviceable role players for their respective teams. Hansbrough has continued his reputation of being the bug-eyed hustler who goes hard on every play. He played quality minutes for the Raptors in the playoffs this past season as well.
Henderson has been a starter for the Charlotte Horncats/Bobnets for the past few seasons. He’s continued his reputation of being a good athlete with a mediocre jump shot.
None of that matters when it comes to revenge, though.
It was a cool April night in the Queen City with the Raptors and Hornets battling for their playoff lives. The Raptors would come out on top and beat the Hornets 92-74, essentially eliminating Charlotte from playoff contention.
Hansbrough would finish with 12 points and 12 rebounds. In the first half, Hansbrough rolled to the basket like big men are taught to do. He received a crisp pass, collected himself, and leaped off the ground. Gerald Henderson sniffed out the play. He jumped up in the air, right arm raised as he went to contest the Hansbrough attack on the basket.
Flashbacks to 2007 of a bloody Hansbrough rush to mind.
However, this ending would be drastically different. Even as an avid Hornets fan I was hoping Psycho T would put Hendo on a poster. To the excitement of Tar Heel and karma fans everywhere, Hansbrough threw it down over the outstretched arms of Gerald Henderson.
Eight years later, Hansbrough finally meets Henderson at the rim and gets revenge. But that wasn’t the last piece of his plan.
3. Replace Gerald
Another year, another disappointing season for the NBA franchise in Charlotte.
The Hornets were supposed to vastly improve from the previous season, with the addition of Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson looking to push them deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Instead, they missed the playoffs and settled for a lottery pick.
The Raptors were primed for a deep playoff run, but got smoked by the Wizards in the first round. It was pretty clear that changes needed to be made.
As a Tar Heel/Hornets fan, I found it extremely difficult to enjoy watching the Hornets when Gerald Henderson was on the court. I still hold the elbow to Hansbrough against him, even if he claims it was an accident.
On June 25th, the Hornets traded Gerald Henderson and Noah Vonleh to the Trail Blazers for Nicolas Batum. Hornets fans everywhere suddenly cried tears of joy as they realized there would be no more of his predictable fadeaway jumper from the baseline that seemingly went in 14% of the time. I figured this would be the highlight of the Hornets’ offseason.
On July 22nd, the Hornets officially signed the man. The myth. The legend. Psycho T.
The former UNC star is finally back in the Tar Heel State, and all is right with the world. It took 8 years, but Hansbrough’s diabolical plan is complete, and it’s nice to see how things come full circle.
Bloody Hansbrough video courtesy of gpoole. Hansbrough dunk video courtesy of Toronto Raptors. Featured image courtesy of Des Runyan.