Hustling Cager Jeff Foster Retires

james m (flickr)

“It’s with deep regret that I have to conclude my basketball career,” said Foster. “I’ve given my all to the Pacers and the community the last 13 years. I had hoped to be able to finish the season, but unfortunately my back problems prevented that from occurring. I want to thank the Simon family and the Pacers’ organization for 13 memorable years.”

– Via Jeff Foster Retires from NBA  from Inside Hoops

And with that, the last link to the last glory years of the Pacers has left the court.

Jeff Foster was a rookie on the 2000 Indiana Pacers that lost in 6 games to the Los Angeles Lakers, although Foster was left off the playoff roster. In a much more prominent role, Foster started alongside Jermain O’Neal for the 2004 Pacers that won 61 games and lost in heart aching fashion to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Then came The Troubles. Brawls, firearms, drug possession and losing.

But this here was a player who gave all the damns you could ever want. Jeff Foster was there hustling his butt off, diving for loose balls, snaring down rebounds and getting under the skin of opponents with his defense. When the Pacers finally returned to the postseason last year, it was a joy for me to see Foster take to the court with the new Pacers and show them a little of the playoff mettle he saw from old-timers like Reggie Miller, Dale Davis and Derrick McKey when he was young and on the bench.

He wasn’t particularly spry with the bad back that forced his retirement today limiting his effectiveness then, but he still dished out some (at-times unnecessarily) hard fouls and caromed rebounds in his limited time on the court. It was enjoyable, but he was a shell of himself.

During his heyday (2002 – 2009), Foster ranked 7th in the league in total rebound percentage and 6th in total rebounds per 36 minutes.  Foster also delivered the 24th most fouls while playing the 110th most minutes. He was really getting his money’s worth and Indiana fans appreciated the effort he always put forth.

In his 13 seasons, Foster managed to climb high in several all-time categories for the Pacers. Unsurprisingly he made the highest ascent in three telling categories.

Games Played – 4th with 764

Rebounds – 4th with 5,248

And, yes, fouls – 4th with 1,921

I’m sad to see him go, but I know Luol Deng can sleep easier at night.

Farewell, Jeff Foster.

Seth Carstens