Xavier Henry #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks in front of Iman Shumpert #21 of the New York Knicks at Staples Center on March 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.
On Monday afternoon, the Los Angeles Lakers officially announced that Xavier Henry would go under the knife to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. In addition, Henry will also undergo arthroscopic surgery on the cartilage abnormality in his right knee.
This was not exactly breaking news.
On Friday, LA Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni revealed that Henry was done for the season and would be examined to determine what procedures were required to repair the 23-year-old’s injured body.
Henry sounded down about the news on Friday, but he understood that he had nothing left to prove at this point. With only a few games remaining in the season, the Lakers understood what he brought to the table. A couple weeks of watching Henry agonize through pain to finish the meaningless season—or worse, get hurt worse in the process—was something D’Antoni did not want on his conscience.
For Henry, this season was a roller coaster ride that started with him finishing as the leading scorer against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Lakers’ opening night surprise victory. When the bench took over and provided one of the few highlights of a historically low season, Henry starred for the bench against the Clippers.
After an up and down month of November, Henry finally showed signs of consistency in December. Prior to getting injured on Dec. 29, the former Kansas Jayhawk scored 10 or more points in 10 of 12 games during the month.
The gifted athlete had a habit of flying high above the rim, and what goes up must, often painfully, come down. His ability on the court is not in question, but his inability to stay on the court is. Henry possesses more than enough talent to not only play at an NBA-level game, but his talents allow him to change and win games.
With great talent comes great responsibility, and Henry still needs to develop into a player who can preserve the body while also disrupting the game. Arguably, the greatest tool Kobe Bryant had in his arsenal of offensive moves was the shot fake, and Henry could stand to learn from that point.
Initially, Henry’s knee injury was considered a short-term issue that only required short rest to heal. However, the soreness did not subside, and setbacks kept the 24-year-old out for about two months.
After forcing his way back, Henry went through tune up games with the LA D-Fenders, the Lakers’ Development League affiliate. Henry ramped up and played seven straight games for the Lakers, slightly improving along the way. In that seventh game, Henry scored 24 points in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The next game, Henry scored 12 points in 23 minutes, but he tore a ligament in his wrist.
Since the injury happened occurred on a Friday night, the specialist would not be available until Monday. As such, Henry sat out for a game, but he swore to his coach that he would be back playing regardless of what the specialist said.
The ligament was torn, and Henry said it made him more comfortable considering he could not cause further damage since it was already ruptured. The kid is tough.
How tough? The next game, Henry shot 8-11 from the field and scored 22 points on a torn ligament in his shooting wrist. He made 3-4 from behind the three-point line. One game later, Henry was pulled due to soreness in the knee. He would attempt a return that lasted 13 minutes, and that was when D’Antoni say him playing with a pained look on his face.
The coach called it, and likely no one argued.
Henry was tough, he had the skill and ability to be a big time player, and his attitude and effort never wavered. Whether or not the Lakers bring him back, however, will depend on his recovery from surgery and their confidence in his ability to stay healthy for a full season.