Duke lure will be present in Boston
Published 11:13 am Thursday, March 26, 2009
By By JIMMY GOLEN, AP Sports Writer
BOSTON — The old Boston Garden has been torn down, and the Celtics’ famous parquet will be tucked away in storage along with the NBA championship banners Gerald Henderson’s father helped win.
But when the Duke guard takes the floor against Villanova in the NCAA East Regional semifinals on Thursday night, he’ll be looking to leave the court the same way his dad did so often during his NBA career.
Henderson’s father — ‘‘Big Gerald,’’ as Villanova coach Jay Wright called him — played 13 seasons in the NBA, the first five years in Boston. With the Celtics he won the 1981 and ’84 NBA championships, helping secure the latter — and his place in Boston lore — with a steal in the final seconds of a Game 2 victory.
Henderson was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics after the season and he won another title with the Detroit Pistons in 1990 before retiring from the NBA the next year. (The banners commemorating his Celtics championships were removed for the weekend, per NCAA rule.)
Henderson went to the same suburban Philadelphia school as Wright’s children, and his sister stayed home to attend Villanova. But when recruiting time came around, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski lured the NBA prodigy to Durham, N.C.
As the offspring of a three-time NBA champion, Henderson knows a little bit about mystique — and there’s no question Duke has it. With three NCAA titles, 14 Final Four appearances and the fourth-winningest coach in college basketball history, the Blue Devils are one of the programs with mystique that translates nationally.
And, despite Duke’s stature, it’s Villanova that has the actual NCAA tournament experience.
The Wildcats, the No. 3 seed in the East, are back in the regional semifinals for the fourth time in five years, though they haven’t reached the Final Four since their storied upset over Georgetown in 1985. Though the second-seeded Blue Devils made the round of 16 for the ninth straight time in 2006, they lost early in each of the last two years; only Greg Paulus played meaningful minutes in that run.