Tyler Hansbrough and Gerald Henderson wasted little time getting an inescapable conversation out of the way in the first episode of their collaborative “Tobacco Road” podcast.
The premiere episode, which came with an early launch of the podcast website Wednesday night, was titled “The Incident.” It opened with 14 minutes of former Duke basketball star Henderson and former UNC star Hansbrough giving their accounts of the 2007 game in which Henderson caught Hansbrough with an elbow to the nose, leaving it broken and bloody.
“Just blood was coming down my nose,” Hansbrough recalled. “At the moment, it didn’t really hurt that much. But I’ll tell you this: It hurt the next day.”
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Both addressed how often they are asked about the famed play in a decade-old meeting in Chapel Hill.
“It never stops, and usually it’s UNC people asking me,” Henderson said. “Not asking me at a zero or a mid-level. … It’s like, ‘You did it on purpose, didn’t you?’ Over time, that kind of builds up in you, man.”
Hansbrough said he’ll hear it while helping at Roy Williams’ summer basketball camps.
“Some of these kids will ask me, ‘Did it hurt?’” he said, “and I’m like, ‘Were you even alive when it happened?’”
So what happened on the play that sidelined Hansbrough and resulted in an ejection for Henderson?
Hansbrough remembers missing a free throw, grabbing the rebound and going back up, and getting hit in the face. He said he initially thought it was Duke’s DeMarcus Nelson who made contact.
“I thought about trying to go after him, which would’ve looked really bad looking back on it,” Hansbrough said.
Henderson recalled the game being nearly over (UNC went on to win, 86-72) with about 14 seconds to play, but still thinking to himself, “You know what, there’s nothing that is going to go toward this basket.”
“As you go up, the ball gets knocked back, and the only thing that remained there in that space happened to be your nose,” Henderson told Hansbrough. “Happened to be your face.
“If you look at the replay, my eyes are closed as it’s happening and I just wildly took a swipe down, you know with ugh, you know, shoot, with my elbow, right? But it wasn’t my intent to actually hit your face, but I was hitting anything that came in that direction.”
Hansbrough joked that for a few years he wasn’t sure if the foul was intentional, “then I think the last couple years I was finally like, ‘You know, I think he may have done it on purpose.’”
He seemed sincere in saying he wasn’t the most fond of Henderson for several years after the play, but he said that’s all in the past now.
“It’s done – I don’t need a petting zoo to get over it,” Hansbrough said. “ ... Me and you, I don’t even think we’d really spoken before you elbowed me. It turned into this.”