He was never an NBA All-Star.
He never won a title.
Heck, he wasn’t even the best player on his team for the last 13-seasons.
But both small and big guys in the league will attest that when they matched up or came down the lane against Jeff Foster for the Indiana Pacers, he was going to make you feel it. Blue-collar worker, always brought his hard hat to work, a player with the intangibles — whatever label attributed to describe Foster and his game was usually spot on.
On Wednesday, and after struggling with chronic back pain, the veteran center retired from the game.
Originally selected in 1999 by the Golden State Warriors before being dealt on draft night to the Pacers, Foster now ends his career with the distinguished honor of joining Reggie Miller and Jon Stockton as the three-players to spend all 13-years in the NBA with one organization.
“I always wanted to continue to play as long as surgery could repair anything going on,” Foster said Wednesday.
“It got to the point that if I continued to damage it more, surgery may not be able to repair it. It wasn’t worth the risk.
“When you come into the league, you don’t see the end. When I started having back problems a few years ago, I started to realize it wasn’t going to last forever. I’m fortunate to be able to last this long.”
Like the guy or not, he was never shy about putting a body on someone or giving a hard foul to guards coming down the lane. Just ask Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.
Foster’s best year in Indiana came during the 2004-05 season when he averaged 7 points and 9 rebounds per game in 26 minutes per game, but after suffering a back injury in December 2009 and undergoing surgery in February 2010, the last two to three years finally caught up with Foster.
It was time to go, but he still hopes to stay close to the Pacers and one day work in a front office role.
For Indiana, they attempted to acquire Chris Kaman from the New Orleans Hornets to fill their void in the middle with no success and are waiting to take a run at Ryan Hollins, the former Cleveland Cavaliers center, once he clears waivers.
The Pacers can only hope Hollins brings the same work ethic to the floor that Foster once did.