Coddling Marshall Henderson

Marshall Henderson is going to play again for Ole Miss. Let’s just get that out of the way. If not, Andy Kennedy would have already booted him off the team.

The PR folks in the Ole Miss sports information office are probably already crafting the narrative. Henderson – who has been trouble everywhere he’s been – will be given one last shot and he’ll find redemption. Or at least he won’t get busted with an 8-ball. Not while there are still games to play.

Head coach Andy Kennedy – who rode the Ole Miss SEC tournament title to a lucrative contract extension – won’t give up on his most talented player just yet. He’s still got 35 games or so to complete, before he rides off to wherever Marshall Henderson is headed. Henderson, for his part, already understands this. After multiple failed drug tests and three separate run-ins with Mississippi cops, his response to his current suspension was to make a video with Ole Miss football player Denzel Nkemdiche where he mocked what was happening.

And herein lies the problem. Marshall Henderson is a cancer. He’s an addict, of what I don’t know – drugs, attention, narcissism – but how many of us allow addicts to run the asylum? He was arrested in high school for using $800 of counterfeit money in two separate drug deals. He was suspended during his freshman year at Utah for punching a BYU player. He transferred after his first year, due to threats to “his individualism”. He transferred again – after never playing a game for Texas Tech – and ended up in JUCO.  There, he served some jail time before moving on to Ole Miss.

Which is where he found his fame.

While many writers wrote fawning pieces to “his individualism” last year, what they failed to cover was the fact that he was a really shitty teammate. Regularly, assistant coaches had to spend the entirety of media timeouts pleading for Henderson to calm down, while head coach Andy Kennedy used his white-board to actually teach the rest of the team. Henderson was bigger than the team. And the coaches allowed it. Henderson didn’t care. He knew he was the show. He knew he was reality t.v., and that the staff wouldn’t rein him in because of that sweet, sweet shooting stroke that he is blessed with.

So what is best for Marshall Henderson? We know where the current path is leading. Imagine this kid with NBA money. He’s a mess, and he’ll always be a mess, as long as those who have some authority coddle him and enable his actions. For addicts to break their addiction, they have to want to do it. And why would Henderson want that? Right now he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He can be a crappy teammate. He can care about no one but himself. And he’s rewarded for it.

Or, someone can step in and force him to be responsible. It might work and allow him to change his life. It might not work, and he could end up in an alley. But it’s probably the only real chance he has to turn his life around.

Will Coach Kennedy have the strength to do that, or will he keep coddling him in search of a few more tallies in the win column? Is this suspension just for show and to cover his own ass in case Henderson does something even more stupid than what we're used to?I think we all know the answer to that.