January 30, 1981|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||202 lb (92 kg)|
|NBA draft||1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall|
|Selected by the Toronto Raptors|
|2009–2010||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jonathan Rene Bender (born January 30, 1981) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association (NBA). After playing 78 games for the Pacers in 2001, knee injuries limited him to a combined 76 games over the next four seasons. He played 25 games for the Knicks in 2009 before calling it a career.
Indiana Pacers: 1999-2006
Bender was selected with the fifth pick by the Toronto Raptors in the 1999 NBA Draft out of Picayune Memorial High School in Picayune, Mississippi despite a verbal commitment to Mississippi State University. The Raptors then traded Bender to the Indiana Pacers for Antonio Davis. Being hyped for his size, athleticism and all around skill, Bender scored 10 points in 13 minutes against Cleveland on December 10, 1999. He became the first high school draftee to score in double figures in his NBA debut, which was an instance repeated only two other times (four if you expand the range to those that played in the league while still being 18 years old at the time of their debuts). However, Bender had been plagued by expectations and injuries ever since he arrived in Indiana. Meanwhile, the Raptors who defeated the Pacers a few times since then would go on to the make the playoffs three times in a row in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Highlights of Bender's career have included an outstanding performance in the Pacers' 2004 playoff series with the Celtics, where he led the Pacers in scoring in game 3, and set personal playoff career bests in rebounds and minutes in game 2. In 2001, Bender participated in the Slam Dunk competition during All-Star weekend, where he executed a Julius Erving-style tomahawk jam from the free throw line, left-handed.
Playing in 78 games in the 2001-02 season, he signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract extension. However, the next few years were plagued by injuries. He played in only 46 games the following season, then 21 games in the season after that. A persistent sore right knee limited him to just seven games in 2004-05 and two games in 2005-06. He was waived by the Pacers on June 14, 2006. At that point, he had averaged 5.6 points in 237 career regular season games. In 2005, Bender was rated by Sports Illustrated as #11 on the list of the 20 biggest busts in modern NBA draft history.
New York Knicks: 2009-2010
On December 13, 2009, the New York Knicks signed Jonathan Bender to a minimum contract. "Jonathan has worked extremely hard in preparing himself for a return to the NBA," said Donnie Walsh, Knicks President of Basketball Operations. Bender played 25 games before ending his career.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Off the court
Two years after Hurricane Katrina, he founded the nonprofit Jonathan Bender Foundation in New Orleans.
He is a cousin of Morris Peterson.
- ESPN - Months after announcing retirement, Bender waived - NBA
- SI.com - Photo Gallery - NBA Draft Busts
- Knicks sign Bender
- Lawrence, Andrew (June 16, 2014). "Off-Court Rebound". Fortune: 30.