|Born||January 30, 1981|
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school||Picayune Memorial|
|NBA draft||1999 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5th overall|
|Selected by the Toronto Raptors|
|2009–2010||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||1,453 (5.5 ppg)|
|Rebounds||582 (2.2 rpg)|
|Assists||170 (0.6 apg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Jonathan Rene Bender (born January 30, 1981) is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association (NBA). A highly-touted 6’11 prospect who mostly played shooting guard in high school, Bender’s unusual height and potential garnered much attention leading up to the 1999 NBA Draft. 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 his retirement.
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.ESPN.com: 1999 NBA Draft: Jonathan Bender 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 injuries ever since he arrived in Indiana.
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.
Highlights of Bender's career as a Pacer included participating in the Slam Dunk competition during 2001’s All-Star weekend, where he executed a Julius Erving-style tomahawk jam from the free throw line, left-handed. In the Pacers' 2004 playoff series with the Celtics, Bender led the Pacers in scoring in game 3, and set personal playoff career bests in rebounds and minutes in game 2. That post season overall, Bender posted a career high 12.5 minutes played per game over 16 games. Despite a lack of personal statistical success given his initial expectations, the Pacers made the postseason every year of Bender’s tenure.
On December 13, 2009, the New York Knicks signed 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. In 25 appearances, Bender averaged 4.7 points in 11.7 minutes per game. But especially notably, Knicks coaches believed he showed great improvement in practice as the season progressed. The Knicks wanted him to return the following season on a one year deal, but Bender declined saying “it just felt like I’d be going backwards.” Bender then officially retired to focus on his business career.
Bender currently coaches in the greater Houston area with the private coaching service, CoachUp.
|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|
Bender was known to read while on NBA road trips. He mostly read business books, Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan being two authors he specifically liked.
Bender invented the JB Intensive Trainer, a resistance training device, that strengthened his knees. Sales of the device began in July 2013.
Two years after Hurricane Katrina, Bender founded the nonprofit Jonathan Bender Foundation in New Orleans.