Indiana Pacers forward Jonathan Bender is
almost certain his career is over because of a series of knee
"Due to a medical condition in my knees, I will not be able to
continue playing basketball," the 25-year-old forward said
Saturday in a statement released by the team. "The Pacers gave me
the chance to play with, and against, the best players in the
Though he does not expect to play again, Bender has not yet
filed official retirement papers with the NBA.
Toronto made Bender the fifth pick in the 1999 draft, then
traded him to Indiana before the season started. He played seven
seasons with the Pacers, but never in every game. His best season
was in 2001-2002, when he averaged 7.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per
The 7-foot Bender also played guard at times. He made 87
3-pointers in his career. As a defender, he was an intimidating
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said Bender is a hard worker who
appreciated the chance to play in the NBA.
"I'm sad for him, for his family," Carlisle said. "A
situation like this couldn't happen to a more undeserving person.
Jonathan really is a great kid. He wanted to play basketball in the
worst way and he wanted to help this franchise in the worst way."
When healthy, Bender presented mismatches and was a force on the
boards. But he rarely was able to contribute. He played in 237
regular-season games with 27 starts, and was limited to nine games
the past two seasons.
"It'll be one of the questions when you look back in history.
How good could this guy have been?" Carlisle said. "I'm not sure
that there was any limit to his potential. It was just not to be."