Earlier today it was reported that La Salle senior forward Demetrius Henry would be leaving the program. Henry appeared in 29 games and started in 18 during the 2016-17 season. He averaged 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Henry shot 61.0 percent from the floor in his only season on the court for the Explorers.
Per multiple sources, La Salle senior forward Demetrius Henry has left the program. Been told he’s pursuing professional opportunity.
— Josh Verlin (@jmverlin) September 2, 2017
Henry’s departure from the team comes just three days after he sent out a tweet regarding a disagreement he had with La Salle’s head coach, John Giannini. Henry is very vocal about social injustice, and was apparently tried to be silenced by Giannini. Henry claims Giannini told him to voice his concerns to Giannini, rather than the public.
I was told by my coach that if I wanted to voice my opinion on social issues I should talk to him lol
— Demetrius Henry (@NomadicMeech) August 30, 2017
Henry’s conversation with Giannini was not the only reason for his departure. The forward had other concerns as well.
“That wasn’t the deciding factor, but it played a part in it,” Henry said. “I was told by my coach that I was a negative influence to my teammates and it was best if I left the team. Which is a lie, but I decided to leave and just pursue basketball professionally.”
He went on to explain that the main reason for his departure was because he felt that he was not wanted on the team, but felt as if Giannini forced his hand on the decision to leave the Explorers.
“Honestly, he really removed me from the team,” Henry said. “He told me I was no longer apart of the team because I was too much of a negative influence to my teammates.”
The conversation of how athletes should address social issues in in full swing right now. We have seen plenty of players take to social media and even the sideline to make statements of their own. Despite his support for those that do choose to take a stand prior to games, Henry hadn’t planned to do anything like that this upcoming season because of how the program had handled players attempting to do so before.
Many argue that athletes should refrain from using their public platform as a way to make political statements. However, Henry argues that those who feel that way fail to see the bigger picture.
“As a sociology major, I’m more aware of these problems now than ever,” Henry said. “As far as doing something on the court, I’m not sure if I would have done something just because I heard when Khalid [Lewis] went to La Salle he wore that ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirt and he was told to take it off. Some people feel that doing something on the court or field is a distraction to the team but they’re totally missing the point of the message which is to bring awareness to the injustice of minorities.”
The forward added that there are other college athletes that want to voice their opinions on these social issues. However, they keep quiet because they are worried that they will face repercussions if they speak up on the topic. Henry encourages any athlete passionate about the subject to disregard what others may think and to speak up.
“People always get mad when athletes don’t take a stand on things and when we do. We turn into the bad guy, a negative influence to the team,” Henry said. “Make the statement, don’t be scared because at the end of the day it’s bigger than us.”