Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Highs And Lows Of TJ Ford

It's hard to feel sorry for anyone who gets paid millions of dollars to play professional basketball. Seriously.

But I started thinking about TJ Ford today and honestly, that guy's had it rough (for a millionaire who's probably never had a REAL job).

Here's a quick recap of the rollercoaster ride that's been Ford's basketball career:

After winning two state titles in high school, Ford was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a degenerative disease that narrows and compresses the spinal cord and surrounding nerves.

He played two phenomenal seasons at Texas U, winning both the Naismith AND the Wooden Awards as a sophomore.

He turned pro and was taken eighth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was in the midst of a productive rookie season when Mark Madsen delivered a hard foul that slammed the little guy into the hardwood. The result was a contusion of the spinal cord, a life-threatening injury that kept him out of action for almost a season and a half. When he finally returned, the team had moved on without him, building their plans around Mo Williams. Ford was traded to Toronto for Charlie Villanueva.

As a Raptor, Ford flourished, guiding the team to a division title and playoff berth in 06/07. Then he hit the deck again, this time on a flagrant by Al Horford. He didn't get up or move for a loooong time. They carried him off on a stretcher. Jose Calderon played well in his absence and Ford returned from his latest injury to discover he'd lost another starting job. He sulked. He refused to be a backup. The Raps traded him to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal.

Again, Ford was handed the starting job. He played well for a while then lost said starting job to Earl Watson (yes, Earl Watson) in the beginning of January and hasn't appeared in a game since. The Pacers readily admit that they're trying to trade him.

Whew. Crazy.

I've never been a TJ Ford fan. He's always seemed like kind of a self-absorbed dick. But I have to give him credit for courage and perseverance. And I hope this whole story ends well for him, I really do. I'd like to see him redeem himself like Chauncey Billups did, prove he belongs in this league. More likely is the possibility that his career ends with another crash to the floor.

Pictured: a paralyzed Ford

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