In 2014, Jordan Henriquez joined the New York Knicks for NBA Summer League. Fast forward four years down the line and 28-year-old center is back in the fold, making the most of his time under the organization’s umbrella. Having just finished the season with the G League affiliated Westchester Knicks, the big man still exhibits the same level of drive. Considered a veteran for this younger squad, Henriquez embraced his new role.
“They make me feel young. I’m not that old, but they do make me feel young. They ask questions and then they listen,” Henriquez told KnicksJournal.com when talking about his younger teammates. “They understand that I’ve played at all types of levels in basketball. I appreciate those guys listening to me and I appreciate learning some of the game from them. This is a new generation with the younger guys, so I look up to that too.”
Henriquez didn’t see much action early on in the season, but once two-way players Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks transitioned to roles with the big league club, their veteran teammate garnered more playing time and was rewarded for the defensive he exhibited all year long with patience.
“That was the time I was waiting for,” Henriquez said. “When it was here for me, I took the most of it. I also think that with Isaiah and Luke going up, I think it helped them as well. They see what it’s like being up (with New York) and they don’t take it for granted. I know they gave it their all.”
It’s been a long journey for Henriquez and it all began when he donned the purple and black of Kansas State. As a collegiate athlete, the 6’11” center brought high intensity, energy, and was able to do the little things to make an impact. Looking back on his time, Henriquez said his collegiate career was special.
“From the moment I got there as a young guy to the day I left, I [loved] every moment,” Henriquez said. “My favorite moment was probably beating Kansas on Valentine’s Day in my sophomore year. It was just a great team effort. Kansas got ranked No.1 that same day (and) we came out and whooped them. [Another moment was] sharing a Big 12 title. We were all together watching the Baylor game versus Kansas. Once Baylor won, we knew that we would share the title with them. That was another moment as well that I’ll cherish forever.”
Scratching the surface of a professional career, Henriquez spent the following four seasons gaining valuable experience in the G League and overseas. He played his rookie year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, then spent the following three seasons in Germany, Argentina, Vietnam and Panama. After playing abroad, he believes such experience prepare him for a second shot at the NBA’s minor league.
“Just knowing (and) learning some of the things that I learned from my three years overseas and playing against other professionals that were older than me — they played at a high level, so I learned from them and brought it with me.”
As he continues the journey to showcase his skills for Knickerbocker brass again, Henriquez believes he’s well equipped to make the necessary impression.
“From when I was the young guy coming out of college or going into my second year out (as a professional) when I was with the (New York) Knicks,” Henriquez-Roberts added, “I played with Cole Aldrich. I played with Shannon Brown, I looked up to those guys. Even if it was just in that little bit of time, I was able to see how they acted as professionals at this level. Now I can serve in a similar role for Westchester’s young guys.”
Playing in the Big Apple this past season meant a lot for the Port Chester native. After making the team as a tryout player, Henriquez noted his close friend Lou Larizza, who passed away in 2017, pushed and motivated him. Larizza and Henriquez played together at Port Chester High School from 2006-2008.
“I think just being from New York and having the opportunity to come in as a tryout player, I made the most of it,” Henriquez said.
Playing in front of his friends and family this past season was a luxury, one that this big man will use as motivation moving forward.