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Kegboy
02-17-2006, 03:35 PM
http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/question.html

Was Bender Unfairly Labeled?


Friday, Feb. 17, 2006 <hr>If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Bruno's_mailbag@pacers.com (bruno%27s_mailbag@pacers.com?subject=Mailbag). Brunner’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.

<table align="left" bgcolor="#ffcc00" border="2" bordercolor="#003366" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0" width="90"><tbody><tr><td align="left"> http://www.nba.com/media/pacers/conrad_brunner.jpg QUESTION
OF THE DAY
Conrad Brunner</td></tr></tbody></table>
Q. Do you think that with the recent retirement of Jonathan Bender he has been unfairly labeled as player who was unmotivated or lazy? I don't think most people understood how hard this young man worked through rehab and trying to overcome the chronic knee issues that haunted him. I give him a lot of credit for making that decision, because you see people in similar circumstances lingering on for years to either hold onto the dream, or collect a paycheck. This was a good kid that had unfortunate luck and timing. (From Jeff in Anderson, Ind.)

A. Two things about Jonathan Bender's legacy will bother me for the rest of my days. The first, obviously, is that he never was able to get into a position to fulfill his potential. The second is that many fans believe it didn't happen because he somehow lacked the drive or dedication to make it so. They couldn't be more wrong.


Nobody wanted to see Bender become a dominant player more than Bender. You have no idea how much he looked forward to the day he would establish his NBA stardom. He went through numerous operations on both knees and spent months – years – undergoing the lonely grind of rehab. In many ways, that's the hardest job in sport because it's just you and the workout room, day after day, week after week, month after month. There are no games to look forward to, no teammates around for camaraderie. It requires intense dedication and discipline to go through that for an extended period of time.


But that's what Bender did. Every summer for the past three, he'd convince himself the coming season would be his long-awaited opportunity and that would drive him through his rehab program. He'd enter training camp with a little extra bounce in his step, a smile on his face and optimism in his voice. But the knees just wouldn't relent. He no longer had pogo sticks for legs, he had stilts.


Don't be misled by the laid-back persona and soft southern drawl. He had the drive, desire, commitment and effort. He had staggering talent that was second to none of his contemporaries. Think of a 7-foot Tracy McGrady. That's how good Bender could've been. This is not, however, a situation where frustration over the lack of fulfillment should lead to blame. From the standpoint of doing everything that was asked -- and much that wasn't -- to prepare himself to play, Bender held up his end of the bargain.


His knees just weren't as strong as his heart.

Kegboy
02-17-2006, 03:37 PM
FYI, I'm not going to read this thread, cause I don't have the stomach for those who will call Bender a baby, Brunner a liar, and the above complete spin.

rabid
02-17-2006, 03:47 PM
:lurk:

Harmonica
02-17-2006, 03:58 PM
FYI, I'm not going to read this thread, cause I don't have the stomach for those who will call Bender a baby, Brunner a liar, and the above complete spin.

Um, why did ya start it then?

I agree with you though, this thread will bring the cockroaches out from under the rocks.

beast23
02-17-2006, 04:04 PM
I guess I'm a cockroach then.

Me thinks Bruno drank the Koolaid.

Hicks
02-17-2006, 04:05 PM
I believe what Conrad says here.

Slick Pinkham
02-17-2006, 04:05 PM
I feel bad for the Pacers and bad for Bender that he had bad knees. His millions earned may ease his pain a little, though.

Personally I've never accused him of faking injury or not trying. I did assert from time to time that he wasn't very good, from a basketball court-sense perspective, even when he could play.

I see nothing wrong with the article. He is gone. He tried. Lets not dump on him when he can't do anything about it.

but...

To steal Bruno's words, another "thing about Jonathan Bender's legacy that will bother me for the rest of my days" is that we could have drafted

Shawn Marion, Richard Hamilton, Wally Szczerbiak, Andre Miller, Jason Terry, Corey Maggette, AK47, Manu Ginobili, Kenny Thomas, or Ron Artest with that pick.

OK, scratch that last one. Shawn Marion, Richard Hamilton, Wally Szczerbiak, Andre Miller, Jason Terry, Corey Maggette, AK47, Manu Ginobili, or Kenny Thomas.

;)

Outlaw
02-17-2006, 04:11 PM
I have no reason to doubt this.

Unclebuck
02-17-2006, 04:15 PM
I agree with Brunner here.

Bender is long gone, why wouldn't Brunner be honest at this point.

Pacesetter
02-17-2006, 04:36 PM
The thing that's always stumped me is how come the "cockroaches" would believe Bender was staying injured on purpose? Every baller wants to play ball. Also, no one ever heard a single derogatory comment made by the Pacers Front Office about Bender hustling to get back in shape. Quite the opposite, everyone kept saying JB was working very hard to get healthy!

I feel terrible for Bender, but I also feel terrible for myself too. I really looked forward to the day when JB could participate without pain. This is depressing just to talk about! It's unbelievable some people criticize the kid. :censored:

MagicRat
02-17-2006, 04:59 PM
From Rick Carlisle's appearance earlier this week on Full Court Press:

The thing that you don't like about the situation is that here's a kid who's got a great heart and loves the game; Loved the opportunity to come to Indiana, but just had such difficult, unusual problems with his knees that it just wasn't in the cards. But I can't think of any player more undeserving of this kind of ending to a career than Jonathan because he was such a good kid. A terrific player. You know, there have been some that have questioned his heart at times and those types of things, but I can just tell you this: I know for a fact there that were many times he really put himself in harm's way to get back on the court and try to play and try to help our team. I know in my heart he did everything he could possibly do to get back on the court and help the Pacers win games and it's really just too bad.

PacerMan
02-17-2006, 05:06 PM
The venom expressed toward JB here altered my thinking about 'knowledgable' hoops fans in Indiana. (I know not everyone was on the bash JB bandwagon, but way too many for my comfort were).
Nobody that has ever experienced a serious knee injury would question his 'playing through the pain'. It SUCKS to not be able to move, and even after it stops hurting like hell walking and just moving around, we aren't anywhere close to being able to do sports.
Much less play professional hoops.
Sucks for him.
ANd for those of us that never stopped believing in what he could have been.

Anthem
02-17-2006, 06:15 PM
The venom expressed toward JB here altered my thinking about 'knowledgable' hoops fans in Indiana.
Ladies and gentlemen, Hades has just experienced a light frost.

PacerMan has lectured the rest of PD on "venom."

:flirt:

PacerMan
02-17-2006, 08:08 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, Hades has just experienced a light frost.

PacerMan has lectured the rest of PD on "venom."

:flirt:

If all you see is mine, I'd suggest you get some new glasses.

Anthem
02-17-2006, 09:50 PM
If all you see is mine, I'd suggest you get some new glasses.
I did one better. I got Lasik.

Best decision I ever made.

Shade
02-17-2006, 11:19 PM
*waiting for Peck* :lurk:

Bball
02-18-2006, 04:19 AM
Hell, I'll say it...

The problem was two-fold...
A: It was clear he was nothing special rather quickly into his career. He never was a 'basketball player' as much as simply a guy who could jump. His 'speed' was over-rated because he was slow for most positions on the court.

B: Once it was clear injuries could be a problem we still hung onto him. Even if he was miraculously healed he still wouldn't be anything special (certainly not a starter on a contender).

We never, ever, should've extended him when we did. There would've been no problem letting him test the waters of free agency. Even IF we'd lost him, so be it. Would anyone else paid him what we did?

IMHO, the whole Bender saga was nothing but wishful thinking and a refusal to admit a mistake and move on. And it was an expensive mistake that was compounded when that second contract was signed.

When you think of the players we could've had in that '99 draft... or simply kept AD... or kept AD to trade for more of a known commodity... :banghead:

What a silly move to make in the midst of a championship run... But then Walsh gave up on that run in 1999 and decided to take us down a road of rebuilding. Unfortunately, he gave up too early...

None of this means Bender didn't want to play NBA basketball or be a star... But then I'm sure 90% of the posters here would like the same thing. It doesn't mean it is any more realistic.

-Bball

RWB
02-20-2006, 07:47 AM
I feel sorry for Bendee. Guess he should have hired a better PR guy or maybe the Ps and the Bendmeister should have been a little more open on the knee problems. Jon wouldn't have been hammered if their had been more honesty. There were only so many times people were willing to hear what great progress he was making when in fact we're being fed BS.

Sorry folks, but the Kellogg, Stipo, and Haskins situations did not play out like this.