San Antonio Spurs point guard and former UT Longhorn, T.J. Ford abruptly retired Monday after suffering another scare to his surgically repaired spine, which once sidelined him for an entire NBA season.
On March 7th, playing in just his 14th game in an injury-prone season, Ford received an elbow in his back from Knicks’ guard Baron Davis, and Ford was knocked to the ground, where he didn’t move for several minutes and was finally helped of the court.
The 28-year-old Ford has had several injuries to his back including the one into the 55th game of his rookie 2003 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 upon slamming to the ground. Trainers immobilized Ford’s neck and carted him off on a stretcher.
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. He led the Longhorns to the Final Four as a sophomore, helping turn football-obsessed Texas into a rising basketball power.
“I think I succeeded at beating the odds, of being the little guy, making it to the NBA and lasting as long as I did,” Ford said. “I think I achieved a lot. I know I didn’t have the career I anticipated and everyone anticipated, me having been the player of the year (at Texas). But I think I still had a successful career.”
While Ford’s playing days are over he said he still wants to be around basketball.
“I don’t think anyone plans to retire early,” Ford said. “I was hoping I could get to that 34-36 age. It’s tough. I wasn’t planning on coming into this season retiring.”
For his career, TJ Ford played in 429 games averaged 11.2 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.1 rpg and 1.2 stl. Ford played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs during his NBA Career.