Most likely to many observers of the Association, San Antonio Spurs reserve point guard T.J. Ford announcing his retirement on Monday according to a report from the “San Antonio Express” barely caused a blip on their internal radar screen. I must admit that the news about the 28-year-old former Texas star hit me rather hard, as Ford was a source of inspiration to this reporter. Ford and I both underwent the same procedure a few years ago, having cervical discs replaced in our necks and having our spines fused. The results of my surgery have left me in chronic pain for the last eight years, as well as turning a healthy and vital 48-year-old man, into a person at age 56, that can no longer do many things I used to take for granted.
Ford however, after going through a devastating collision in his rookie season in the Association, which led to him having to have the same procedure performed did not allow his injury to stop him. Although he never had the athleticism that caused the Milwaukee Bucks to select him with the eight pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, he was able to grind it out until he was injured last week in a game against the New York Knicks.
Although his latest injury was classified by doctors as just a neck-stinger and will not have any long-term effects, apparently it was too close a call for the player now in his eighth campaign in the Association, so he has decided to hang up his sneakers for good. Ford told reporters Monday morning “That’s not the first time I’ve laid down on the court and not been able to move at my will. I thought I needed to get out while I still had a chance. I don’t know if I could live with myself if I continue to put myself at risk. I don’t want to look at my son and have regrets of not being able to enjoy every minute playing with him. I avoided doctor’s orders for years, and dodged a lot of bullets.”
The 28-year-old guard has played for the Toronto Raptors and the Indiana Pacers as well as having stints with the Bucks and the Spurs. He retires with respectable numbers for his career as he averaged 11.2 points, 5.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game. He would return to the starting lineup in his last season with Milwaukee and his first with the Raptors, however Toronto became enamored with Jose Calderon and Ford went to the bench.
I am not really sure that people who have not gone through this experience can comprehend the pain that Ford had to be playing with; as well as the bravery he displayed staying in the Association as long as he did, realizing that another collision could leave him paralyzed for life. Ford has made the right decision for both he and his family; I would just like to express my thanks for inspiring me to keep on pushing forward every day.