Boston Celtics: A Look Back at Conner Henry, the Sharp-Shooting Guard Who Drew Comparisons to His Idol Pete Maravich

Conner Henry certainly isn’t a household name when it comes to the NBA, but for a short stretch in 1987, he played with the big boys on the Boston Celtics.

Henry came to Boston nine days after being waived by the Houston Rockets in December 1986. He inked the first of his two 10-day contracts on Jan. 1, 1987, and played in front of the home crowd for the first time against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 7. He made quite an impression on the Celtics fans.

Henry even made an impression on former teammate Danny Ainge, who likened Henry to basketball legend Pete Maravich.

Conner Henry made quite an impression on the Boston Celtics

Head Coach Conner Henry of the 36ers looks on during the round 19 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Adelaide 36ers at Christchurch Arena, on May 25, 2021, in Christchurch, New Zealand. | Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images.

Henry played his college ball at UC Santa Barbara and was a fourth-round pick of the Rockets in the 1986 NBA Draft. He played 18 games for the Rockets during the 1986-87 season before being waived in December. The 6-foot-7 shooting guard played 5.1 minutes and averaged 1.3 points in Houston.

Henry wasn’t unemployed long as the Celtics came calling with a 10-day contract offer. He made his home debut against the Bucks in a 119-92 Celtics victory. He found himself on the same team as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and several other stars. Henry did not disappoint in that home debut.

He played 10 minutes that night, scoring 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor. He made all three of his three-point shots as the crowd chanted, “Ten more days.”

“It was a magical night,” Henry told Michael D. McClellan of Celtic Nation. “I had no idea something like that might happen, although we were playing the Milwaukee Bucks, and I had a feeling that I’d get into the game. I was very excited, very nervous. Once I got into the game, I was able to settle down.  

“I got open, and the first one went in. That relaxed me, and I was able to flow with the game the rest of the way. I kept moving and kept getting looks, and the shots kept going in. I’ll never forget the chants from the fans. It was incredible.”

After the game, Danny Ainge compared Henry to Pete Maravich

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After the game, Ainge said Henry reminded him of Maravich with his shooting, longer hair, and fancy passes. Henry admitted Maravich was his idol growing up.

“It’s a wonderful compliment,” Henry told McClellan. “For Danny to compare me to Pistol Pete, that’s something I’ll always cherish. My dad really liked Maravich, and growing up, I had a Pistol Pete poster on my bedroom wall. I still have the clipping where Danny made that comment.  It means a lot, especially because Maravich was my idol.”

Henry played 36 games for the Celtics during the 1986-87 season. He played in 10 games the following year before being waived. During his time with the Celtics, he averaged 2.9 points in 6.8 minutes. He also played parts of the 1987-88 season with the Sacramento Kings and the Bucks.

Henry admitted it was his long-range shooting that kept him around the NBA.

“Being so sleight physically — a good breeze could probably knock me down — I didn’t challenge the bigger guys underneath the basket,” he said. “Shooting was the thing that helped me to make a name for myself. And the farther out, the better. When I joined the Celtics, (head coach) KC Jones was very supportive of me in this regard. He gave me his blessing to launch those shots from downtown, as long as they came within the flow of the offense — and as long as they went in.

Henry has made a living as a coach after his playing days. In 2020, he inked a three-year deal to become the head coach of the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian National Basketball League.