Sports Out West

Lakers’ Xavier Henry is driven to prove he belongs

Xavier Henry

LOS ANGELES — First it was a bone bruise in his right knee, and now it is a torn scapholunate ligament in his left wrist that will require surgery, but that all that will not stop Los Angeles Lakers guard Xavier Henry from taking the court.

The 23-year-old, who played in his first game since being diagnosed on Saturday with his latest injury, did not skip a beat as he led the team in scoring with 22 points, which was also his second 20-plus point output in the last three games that he has played.

Henry was a major factor off the bench as he chipped 10 of his 13 second-quarter points in the team’s 22-4 run that not only gave them the lead but by a sizable advantage.

Henry helped jumpstart the run as scored eight of the Lakers’ first 12 points of the quarter that included two of his three made 3-pointers for the game. But that was not the most impressive part of Henry’s night, as he had two hard dunks with his injured left hand that has the torn ligament.

“That is how I play,” Henry said. “I don’t want to go into any game having any excuse with my wrist or my knee (and) I’m going to fight through it. I have 12 games left and I know I am strong enough to do it. As long as I am strong in my mind, I got it.”

The four-year veteran is a man of no excuses as he is also playing through persistent pain in his right knee that had forced him to miss 28 straight games.  So as he continues to get treatment on his wrist and knee, it is that mindset that keeps Henry going. 

“I think I am just blessed with the mindset of non-stop,” Henry said. “If you could do it, then do it. Don’t waste any time just being like ‘aww well I will wait until next week to see how it feels.’ If I can get through it then I am going to get through it. You don’t have to worry about me always complaining about anything. I am going to push it as far as I can and if it gets unbearable you’ll notice it, but right now I can take the pain and continue to fight through it.”

It is Henry’s strong will that has kept him going this season despite the injuries that have taken away a significant amount of his season. The four-year veteran has leaned on his faith to help him keep a positive outlook on things as he continues to fight through the injuries to prove to himself that he belongs in the league and can be a productive player.

“I think there is always something to prove just to myself,” Henry said. “I know if I wouldn’t of got hurt I would still be proving to myself that I belong in this league, contribute and change a game. Right now it’s proving to myself that these injuries aren’t going to hold me back.”

“I am strong enough to just get through it, and push it to the side and continue to be productive every game and continue to bring the energy. I know even with the injuries that I have I can still do that and I am going to continue to do it.”

Henry’s will to keep playing despite his injuries has not gone unnoticed by his teammates and coaches.

“He’s tough, He can play with pain,” head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s got a bum knee and bum wrist. He loves to play, he love to battle , and he’s fearless. He’s a tough guy.”

For teammate Chris Kaman, it has been Henry’s hard work and “no fear” attitude on the court that has gained the 11-year veteran’s respect.

“I got a lot of respect from him because he has been battling through some serious injuries this year and he continues to put his foot forward,” Kaman said. “He keeps playing hard. He is like a bull out there. He just goes with no fear. He is a guy who works and I am happy that he has been successful this year.”

“I know that he struggled in New Orleans last season, but this year he has played well and people are starting to see that.” 

It is the shear determination that helped Henry continue to play through the injuries that he has suffered. It was his will that kept him on track despite two separate setbacks occurring in his recovery from the bone bruise in his right knee that forced him to miss over two months of the season.

So now with his wrist injury, it will be the same drive that will get him through the last 12 games of the regular season.

Photo Credit: USATSI

Watch below one of Henry’s impressive dunks from Tuesday’s win over the Knicks:

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.

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