T.J. Ford retires
Friday night before the Los Angeles Clippers game, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talked about T.J. Ford having to recover both mentally and physically from a back injury that left him face first on the AT&T Center floor for a few moments.
The body healed, this time. But given his history of back and neck injuries, and the nondescript actions that caused his latest scare, T.J. Ford simply could not wrap his mind around playing basketball again. Ford has retired.
“Instead, Ford says it was his mental state that led him to call it quits. He couldn’t picture a future in which he is unable to play with his 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.
“I don’t know if I could live with myself if I continue to put myself at risk,” Ford said. “I don’t want to look at my son and have regrets of not being able to enjoy every minute playing with him.”
Ford said he looked “briefly” at film of the play that essentially ended his career, when Davis elbowed him in the back during a box-out situation. He does not consider the play dirty.”
There are more important things than chasing NBA championships. The ability to hold and play with your two young children easily ranks up there with them. In a situation where even incidental contact can potentially lead to severe, life threatening or changing injuries, this is the right call.
This leaves the Spurs in a bit of bind, not that Popovich cares given the context of the things. Cory Joseph and Gary Neal will be listed as backup point guards to Tony Parker, though it can be said neither is a natural fit at the position. For all intents and purposes, Popovich still considers Joseph to be a sophomore in college.
Ford was developing some nice chemistry with the second unit and Tiago Splitter before going down with the first injury. He proved he could still play. But the Spurs adapted without him following the first injury and they can do so again.
While Gary Neal isn’t an ideal option at point guard, the Spurs have extra part-time playmakers in Danny Green and Manu Ginobili available to help share the load. The real problem is defending the position without Parker when teams go small, as the Clippers did Friday night.
There always remains the possibility of a trade or late free agent acquisition, but given the Spurs complex system and the limited practice time available, it’s doubtful they can find anyone to be a valuable contributor.