Tim Donahue: Jeff Foster - RareJeff Foster formally announced his retirement
on Monday night. I watched
him play in Blue-and-Gold for 13 seasons. Then I sat in on his retirement
press conference. Then watched him do one-on-one after one-on-one with
local media. However, I don’t think I quite grasped what was happening
until I got the chance to talk to David West about him.
“He’s one of those guys, man, you know...rare,” West opened.
When West said that, my eyeballs clicked. It was a simple, but almost
perfect way to sum up #10 for the Pacers. When taken as a whole, Jeff
Foster has carved out an incredibly rare career.
He played 13 seasons with one team in a league in which that’s virtually
unheard of, even for stars. He’s displayed a savant’s ability at both
rebounding and getting under the skin of the opponent. Foster has seen
some of the best days of this Pacer franchise. More impressively,
however, he has lived through its darkest days and come out the other
side with his dignity and reputation in tact.
West went on, “Not a big statistical guy, in terms of, he’s not going out
and playing for stats. He’s playing the game the right way in terms of
doing what’s necessary to win games. One thing we always used to talk
about when we would scout against Pacers with him, is that you can’t
underestimate his impact. He’s not gonna be out there looking for his
stuff, but he’s going to be looking to make plays for the team.”
Jeff Foster is a guy who averaged fewer than 5 points per game over his
career and never averaged more than 7. Yet, all he did was make his
team better. In the summer of 2003, when the Pacers lost All-Star center
Brad Miller and got little in return, Foster took the starting job over. His
quickness helped transform what was a slow-footed team, and he was no
small contributor to the franchise-record 61-win season. For each of the
past five years, the team has performed better with him on the floor
(according to BasketballValue.com
Jeff is an easy guy not to “get.” I mentioned to West that my appreciation
for Foster came from watching him so much, but that opposing fans would
often dismiss him. He was the guy who had no offense, looked awkward,
and couldn’t even hit lay ups.
“Yeah, but he’s destroying you,” West responded. “He’s beating on your
bigs. He’s wearing you down. He’s not out there playing the game for
himself. He’s giving it all for the team. That’s rare. You don’t find too
many guys like that around the NBA anymore. It’s become an ‘I’ League.
An ‘I’...‘Me’ sorta league. For him to be able to stay around as long as he
did and be effective is a testament...CONTINUE READING AT 8p9s