Henry on song for title defence

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
Leon Henry
ROBYN EDIE/ Fairfax NZ

READY TO PLAY: Back in NZ after time in Hollywood, Leon Henry is itching to play.

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From Hollywood to Invercargill - it's a move not many make but it is one Leon Henry is more than comfortable with.

Henry and his partner, singer Aaradhna, have an apartment in West Hollywood, about five minutes' drive from Hollywood Boulevard.

Henry has been following his girlfriend around the States on tour, enjoying the bright lights of the entertainment industry.

''I've been learning a lot about the music industry, but I don't think I could do that for a living because it's a lot of partying and a lot of hurt on the body. I'm not use to it,'' he said.

''You run into a lot of celebrities. At first it was a bit of a shock, but once I got used to it, it was good. It was a humbling experience.''

The 29-year-old returned to New Zealand last week to link up with the Southland Sharks for the 2014 National Basketball League season.

Invercargill is far from the star-studded Hollywood lifestyle but Henry is pleased to be back and ready to go for Friday night's season opener against Otago at ILT Stadium Southland.

''It's a bit of a change all right but it is good to back. I'm happy to be back.''

While in the United States, Henry found ways to get himself prepared for the New Zealand basketball season with the Sharks.

''I didn't slack off and get too much into that Hollywood life. The whole time over there I was getting itchy feet to play. I played in a few different leagues - the ABA, there was the Venice Beach league I played in, and then I trained with the LA D-Fenders (D-League team) at the LA Lakers facility. My agent got me a look-in there.''

Henry was a late signing for the Sharks' 2013 team and went on to play a major role in helping the Southland franchise to its first NBL title.

A couple of months after that victory, he decided he wanted to come back to try to defend the title.

''Once we had won it, I spoke to Pauly [coach Paul Henare] in the couple of days after about coming back but, at that time, I wasn't really to sure if the move over to the States was going to be permanent. He stayed in contact with me and was in my ear. I decided I wanted to come back to defend the title.''

Henry can't wait to get back on court with the Sharks. Part of that enthusiasm stems from the chance to play at the rebuilt Stadium Southland.

''When I first walked in [to the stadium] I was looking around everywhere in amazement. I'm just looking forward to exciting these fans on Friday night.''

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- The Southland Times

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