Citing recent troubles with neck and spine injuries, San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. FORD announced his retirement from the NBA Monday, via his Twitter account.
Picked up by the Spurs as a back-up point guard to Tony Parker on December 10, Ford mentioned that his most recent injury (a “stinger” suffered in a March 7 game against the Knicks), was his primary reason for retiring. Even though everything checked out fine, the scary scenario of Ford lying motionless on the court in that game was all too familiar and entirely too much for him to bear–especially considering his medical history with spinal injury.
“While this was a tough decision to make, it is what is best for me and my family at this time,” Ford said. “Regardless of what the future holds, I will carry the experiences, the friendships and the memories with me forever.”
Ford reminded me of my generation’s Kenny Anderson…a smooth, sleek point that could dish, swish and finish at the rim. He certainly had the potential to be one of the league’s best point guards but his 2005 career-threatening injury to his spinal cord while a member of the Milwaukee Bucks greatly curtailed those aspirations.
Leaving the game that one loves is a tough decision for any athlete to make but apparently Ford felt it did not compare to the prospect of possibly ending up paralyzed for life. His stinger during the Knicks game served as a very real wake up call for him. So in that context, I believe he made the right decision.
Ford played eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 11.2 points and 5.8 assists per game.