Jonathan Bender Interview! (He reflects on his memories of Flint’s Pro-Am)

January 1, 2010

Back in the day…Jonathan Bender was one of the most highly touted high school basketball players in the nation! Dominating the competition at Picayune Memorial High School, the country boy from Mississippi took his skills to the NBA after his senior season.

In 1999, Bender was selected with the fifth pick by the Toronto Raptors but was almost immediately traded to the Indiana Pacers for a vet in Antonio Davis. With so much hype, Bender never really lived up to his expectations as his career fizzled out with the Pacers after the 2005-2006 season, hampered by injuries.

After a four-year absence from the NBA, Bender is now a member of the New York Knicks. He currently averages just over 4 points and a board a game, which isn’t bad for a man who hasn’t played professionally in a full college stint. I caught up with Bender in the  locker room at the Palace of Auburn Hills on December 29th after the Knicks defeated the Pistons 104-87.

Bender knows a thing or two about Flint, Michigan since his cousin is former Flint Northwestern Wildcat Morris Peterson. He also came to the city earlier in the decade to participate in the city’s pro-am games, which I asked him to reflect on…

Eric Woodyard: I remember you came up to the Pro-Am games in Flint, and played down there…

Jonathan Bender: Yea with Mo… (Note: Morris Peterson)

EW: Can you talk about any memories that you have of that?

JB: It was nice. My cousin Mo-Pete invited me up there and we played together and it was a nice night. I remember that.

EW: Was it anybody that stood out from the competition that you played against?

JB: Not really…I cant remember it that well. I did remember me and Mo playing together and we won.

EW: Obviously you guys are cousins but are you and Mo-Pete pretty cool.

JB: Yeah, we talked a little earlier today.

EW: Was he pretty encouraging with your comeback to the league?

JB: Un-huh. Yeah he keeps me with that motivation you know?

EW: How does  it feel to come back after being out for so long?

JB: I mean, you just get in a groove and I’m back at work basically and hey…it’s a nice feeling.

EW: How did you stay in NBA shape?

JB: I couldn’t, it’s no way you can and I’m just working back up to it now.

*Good luck with your comeback Jonathan Bender!! (This post can also be viewed at It’s Just Sports)

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