Bender: 'It's not good'

Updated: November 18, 2004, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers forward Jonathan Bender's chronically injured left knee has taken yet another turn for the worse.

Bender will be out indefinitely to allow scar tissue to heal, the latest in a series of injuries.

Jonathan Bender
Indiana Pacers
2 8.0 3.5 0.5 .500 .500

"It's not good," Bender said after practice Thursday. "The doctor's re-evaluated it and I'm going to sit out for [a while]."

Bender played 11 minutes in Wednesday night's win over the Atlanta Hawks, the first time he'd played since the season opener against Cleveland.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said he didn't have a specific timetable for Bender's recovery, but the team will "have to consider sitting Jonathan out for an extended period of time to allow him to really rehab this knee right."

Bender has been plagued by the injury for years, missing huge chunks of time, then coming back for a few games, only to miss more time.

"We're at a point where it doesn't make sense to yo-yo him in and out and for him to keep having the setbacks he's having," Carlisle said. "We have to approach it a little differently."

Bender clearly was frustrated as he left Conseco Fieldhouse. He spent the summer putting on weight and muscle in anticipation of a big season in Indiana.

"I can't be sitting out a week and a half, come back and have this happen over and over," Bender said.

After playing well in the season opener at Cleveland, Bender's knee swelled again, and he sat out six straight games. Now it looks like, after one more game, Bender will be on the bench for the foreseeable future.

He says the problems derive from a growth spurt he had in high school.

"It's just a lot of things that happened in the past when I was younger that is creeping back up on me," Bender said. "I had a growing spurt from 6-2 to 6-8 in a summer. That left some deep scar tissue. My mechanics are all twisted up."

Last season, Bender missed the first 39 games after having knee surgery, then missed seven more with "postoperative soreness." He also missed time with a shoulder sprain and played in just 21 games.

When he was on the floor, however, Bender showed flashes of the considerable ability and explosiveness that made him a lottery pick out of high school in 1999.

He scored 37 points in two playoff games against Boston, a performance so encouraging the Pacers didn't hesitate to trade sixth man Al Harrington to Atlanta to free up more playing time for Bender.

But the scar tissue in his leg has prevented him from taking the next step. Bender said he won't need surgery, just time to let it heal.

"When I get out there and start running, it may feel good for a day and then the next day it just breaks down on me," he said, shaking his head. "I went a whole summer feeling really good. I come in and compete for a minute, then get out there in a game and it feels terrible."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press