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Jonathan Bender: Making Big Plays In Retirement

One of the myriad factors impacting the Pacers current situation, is the four year, $27 million contract extension given to Jonathan Bender after he showed crazy promise but stuggled with injuries in early in his career. After playing in only 30 games in the final three years of the contract, JB retired.

I recall in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bender loaded up a semi with goods and went down to help in his native Picayune, Mississippi which had been hit hard by Katrina. Bender spent much of the injury-plagued 2005-06 season back in Mississippi lending a hand.

Well, accorinding to True Hoop, since retiring, Bender hasn't stopped lending a hand in Picayune, and is making a huge impact.

Jonathan Bender, from nearby Picayune, is doing well even after his NBA career was cut short. He is making a full-time job out of Hurricane Katrina recovery in this area. Christmas present programs, helping a school refurbish their moldy library, reading stories to kids, running free basketball camps ... he's putting his time and his treasure to work for this region. Bender has been buying damaged properties, hiring contractors to fix them up, and then renting them out. It's amazing how uplifting it is to see houses getting fixed up on blocks where everything is abandoned. He invited us on a trip to see some of his nearby projects, but time was tight. We might get to see it anyway, however -- Bender recently hired a production company to make a pilot of a reality show about such things called Brand New Orleans.

Knowing where JB's time, money, and effort are going will make me think twice about ever dubbing Bender a draft bust who was overpaid. Maybe his NBA career was just meant to be, putting him in position for bigger and better things. Even if those "things" don't include the glamourous life of the NBA.