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Ford retires after latest spinal scare

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Associated Press
March 13, 2012
— San Antonio Spurs point guard T.J. Ford abruptly retired Monday following the latest scare to his surgically repaired spine that once sidelined him for an entire NBA season and hampered the dazzling promise that made him a college star.

Ford told reporters that lying motionless March 7 on the court against the New York Knicks wasn’t the first time it had happened, and he decided to walk away while he still had a chance. He was playing just his 14th game in an injury-prone season when Knicks guard Baron Davis elbowed him in the back, knocking him to the ground.


The 28-year-old Ford didn’t move for several minutes and wobbled while being helped off the court.


“If it’s anybody else, it’s just a regular play,” Ford said at a Spurs practice before Monday’s game against Washington. “But because of me and my condition, a simple elbow in the back has a different outcome than hitting someone else in the back.”


Drafted eighth overall by Milwaukee in 2003, Ford also played for the Raptors and Pacers but never quite reached the potential that made him the Naismith and Wooden player of the year at Texas.


Ford was just 55 games into his rookie season when a collision with Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen changed his career. He landed hard on his tailbone after releasing a short jumper and instantly felt numb after slamming to the ground.


Ford underwent spinal fusion surgery and was sidelined through the next season. He returned to the Bucks in 2005 and was traded in 2006 to Toronto.


, where Ford began putting together his best seasons. He averaged 14 points and 7.9 assists in his Raptors debut, and his scoring average hit a career-high of 14.9 points with Indiana in 2008-09.


But by the next season, at 26, Ford was already transitioning from a franchise point guard to a backup.


Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who signed Ford in December to be Tony Parker’s backup, said the team enjoyed having him around.


“I congratulate him on all that he has achieved as a player and fully support the difficult decision he was forced to make,” Popovich said.


Knocked out most of the year because of a nagging hamstring, Ford averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds with the Spurs.


For his career, Ford played in 429 games, averaging 11.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.16 steals.



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