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Legend for a night

Catching up with Conner Henry

CLAREMONT, Calif. -- On Jan. 7, 1987 the "Legend of Conner Henry" was born among Celtic fans at the Boston Garden.

Henry spent 11 months with the team, but to this day it's his Celtics debut that fans reminisce about.

Henry came off the bench in the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading by 25 points. To many he was just another 6-foot-7 basketball player with a 10-day contract. However, when the game was over, the name Conner Henry was permanently etched in Celtics history.

Henry scored 11 points, going a perfect 4 for 4 from floor with three 3-pointers. Boston defeated Milwaukee 119-92. By the time the game was over the crowd at the Garden was chanting Hen-ry, Hen-ry and giving him a standing ovation.

Thus the "Legend of Conner Henry" was born.

"It was an unbelievable first night," said Henry. "It was garbage time so it was a safe time to put me in. When I got in I was at full energy and ready to go. It was an ideal time for me because I basically spotted up and hit my first three and that relaxed me. It just flowed from there.

"It was magical and just a great way to start. I got a lot of support and a lot of attention right away."

After his contract was up, Henry's performance helped him earn a roster spot with the Celtics for the rest of the season.

"I was ecstatic," Henry said. "I knew I played well briefly, but I knew I hadn't gotten a lot of time. When they told me they were going to keep me it was a great feeling for me, my family and my friends.

"DJ (Dennis Johnson) was instrumental in helping me get acclimated to Boston. All the guys on the team were very helpful. I was living a dream."

Henry was released by the Celtics the following year and played one more season in the NBA with both the Bucks and the Kings.

After the NBA, Henry spent 10 seasons playing in Europe. He was all over the Mediterranean with stints in four different countries (Italy, Spain, France, and Greece). Each summer after playing in Europe, Henry would return to Montana where he lived for more than 10 years.

When his European career was over, Henry returned to Montana and took a year off from basketball. He worked for a Marketing Consulting Company.

After his year out of basketball, Henry moved his wife, Fleur, and son Jacob, 4, to his hometown of Claremont, Calif. He returned to basketball as an assistant coach at Claremont McKenna College, where he has been for the past three years.

Henry also serves as the Associate Director of the Career Services Center at Claremont.

"My main job is helping the students gain employment," said Henry. "I do a lot of employer outreach, recruiting and having them to come to the campus. I try to match certain kids with the employer. I have been doing this for about six months now and am enjoying it.

While Henry is enjoying life after basketball, he had fond memories of his time on the court.

To this day, Henry will never forget his playing days with the Celtics. He played on the parquet in the Garden with the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

"It was very simple basketball," said Henry. "I tell the story where I went from the Celtics knowing four or five plays to the Bucks where there was a whole manual of plays. The Celtics knew how to play ball. They shared the ball, made the extra pass, and they defended. They knew when to get Birdie and Kevin the ball and we all played off them.

"Overall it was an incredible experience for me being there on that team at that time getting to play for the greatest organization historically. I have nothing but good memories. It was a great, great experience and I would not trade it for the world."

(If you would like to hear where a former New England Sports Star is these days, please e-mail Jon Goode at jgoode@lowellspinners.com)


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