Bullets' Henderson ends 2-day absence Rookie apologizes, rejoins training camp

October 10, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- As he was lifting his head to speak to general manager Wes Unseld during a team meal yesterday, Washington Bullets coach Jim Lynam thought he was seeing things.

"I glanced up and said to myself 'that looks like Ronnie Henderson,' " Lynam said last night. "And I looked back and said, 'That is Ronnie Henderson.' "

And thus Henderson came back to camp last night, two days after he gathered a few personal belongings from his locker and left the team without an explanation. Henderson, the team's second-round pick (55th overall) out of Louisiana State University, returned in time for the team's scrimmage last night at Shepherd College, and was apologetic.

"I'm not a quitter," said Henderson, a 6-foot-4 guard who led the Southeastern Conference in scoring over the past two years. "I don't think the Washington Bullets deserved that. It's a mistake I made, and I have to live with it."

Henderson cited personal problems and nagging injuries as the reasons why he left camp.

After Monday morning's session, Henderson and trainer Kevin Johnson had a disagreement over the amount of time the draft pick had spent on exercise equipment. Henderson showed up for the evening session, then disappeared.

"I went back to D.C., I went back to the house for a minute," Henderson explained. "It was personal things. I was frustrated because I had injury after injury after injury. It seemed I couldn't get right."

Whatever the explanation Henderson gave, he at least found a sympathetic audience in Lynam and Unseld. When asked Monday whether Henderson would be allowed to return, Unseld said he would need "a good" reason for walking away. Last night Unseld said that Henderson would be allowed to return with no repercussions.

"There isn't a discipline problem with Ronnie," Unseld said. "His leaving doesn't change anything. It doesn't make him more or less likely to succeed.

"Ronnie showed up and explained his reasoning, his thinking," Unseld said last night. "Jimmy treated it as an act of a young, frustrated and a fatigued young man. Jimmy thought he deserved another chance."

And so did the players, who apparently had no problems in welcoming Henderson back.

"If we go back in our history and looked at the mistakes we made when we were younger, we'd be embarrassed," Chris Webber said. "Coming back is harder than leaving. So you have to give him credit for that."

Webber scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds during the scrimmage, and Calbert Cheaney had a game-high 14 points as the two helped lead the White team to a 47-37 win over the Blue team. Juwan Howard (sore shin), Rod Strickland (not with the team for personal reasons), and Gheorghe Muresan (sore hip) did not play in the scrimmage, which drew a near capacity crowd.

Standing out among the free-agents hoping to make the team was Ben Wallace, a 6-foot-9, 240 pound forward from Virginia Union (Division II) who scored eight points and grabbed a game-high six rebounds. In the second half he provided the highlight of the game with a thunderous windmill dunk.

As for Henderson, he didn't play particularly well. He shot two air balls and missed several defensive assignments.

The odds against him making the squad are long, since Lynam will probably use the two open roster spots to carry a back-up point guard and a big man.

Pub Date: 10/10/96

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