On Friday the Bucks pulled off a mini-blockbuster, a three-team trade that was seen as a step towards contention. Symbolically, it seemed to close the door on the teams’ at times troubled past. Out with bad contracts, in with George Hill.
As part of that deal, the Bucks parted ways with John Henson. Over a seven year career with the Bucks, Henson didn’t put up towering stats. The first memory fans will have of him probably involves hook shots, or dancing in support of his teammates on the sidelines, or that dumb t-shirt he wore under his jersey that made him look like he was at the local Y.
These are not memories of dominance. Way back in 2012 I watched the draft live with a buddy that had minimal interest (it was a bad draft and the Bucks were a bad team), and I wanted a guard or a wing.
However, when Henson’s name was called by David Stern I couldn’t be mad. Henson looked too happy to be in the NBA. I wasn’t going to take away from his moment, even if he was another in the long line of Hammond tube men. Can’t be too mad after all, the very next draft the tube man we got ended up being Giannis.
J-Hook. Chipotle. Alley oops from his boy Kendall Marshall. He struggled with Giannis through the worst season in Bucks history all the way to the heights of this year’s contention. Every year he brought the same game of hook shots and blocks, and every year he changed up just enough that nobody knew what to expect of him.
On any given play he could close the gap and stuff the opposition or lose control to the extent that it seemed he forgot how to play the game. This season he brought a shockingly smooth three pointer. Will he blossom into the next stage of the game, raining threes with abandon alongside a rejuvenated Kevin Love as the Cavs charge back from oblivion?
Uh, probably not, sadly the dream of Henson shooting from downtown might seem a sparkly fantasy in the jaws of Larry Drew’s system. We all know Drew League John Henson, and ladies and gentleman, it won’t revolutionize the game.
He might just give Tristan Thompson a run for his money, so that should be quite the competition in Ohio.
A player’s contribution to a team is so much more than that recorded on the court. Some men are leaders that forge the path, some jokers that lift the spirits, others become part of that ineffable link that binds a team together. A basketball team is fifteen men, fifteen threads that weave together to form a greater whole. John Henson was here long enough to become a part of the team’s soul, and his steadying presence will be missed. It’s hard to imagine the Bucks without him.
This is not the age of big men. John Henson might not have been worthy of his contract in the end, but he brought more to this team than can ever be measured. In his own way, he made the Bucks what they are today.
So long, John Henson. Thank you for your time in Milwaukee. You will be missed.