T.J. Ford retires

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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.

Via jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

“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.

 

  • Bankshot21

    I respect TJ more now than before. When we win the title this year, he deserves web honorary ring.

  • http://twitter.com/nudityJ nudityjfandango

    Hats off T.J.  Great decision.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=173600134 Ryan McShane

    Will the Spurs be forced to pick up a new player given that their roster will now stand at 12, one less than the league minimum for long stretches?

    Was Ford’s contract insured? Does insurance cover retiring for “mental” reasons? (He clearly made the right decision, btw). 

  • theghostofjh

    Ford put he and his family ahead of basketball, as it should be, and made the decision he felt was necessary. We of course wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors. That said, this is clearly not a positive development for the Spurs. Ford could have filled a key 10-15 mpg. play making role off our bench, maybe even during the ultra important upcoming playoffs. Indeed, I happen to think the Spurs only chance of advancing to the WCF’s this year is to use all of our top ten assets in a variety of small and larger roles, along with striving to achieve maximum chemistry throughout the rest of the regular and postseason. Ford very well could have been on that list of our ten most valuable assets going into the playoffs, and the fact is, we need every one of them to have a shot at bucking the odds. The margin of winning and losing is often very slim at the highest level. The loss of Ford could be could be very difficult to replace, and may represent a meaningful blow to the Spurs chances of getting a shot at the WCF’s.

  • Frank Ameka

    Sad, TJ offered us a glimpse of what having a try backup to Tony Parker would look like. So I guess it is time for wheeling and dealing, R.C., Please work some magic! Is there anyone in the D-Leauge that could fit in Pop’s system?

  • Senorglory

    Good luck and thanks to TJ.  
    Had a great time watching him at UT, and liked what he did for the Spurs.  

  • Rey

    At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. Family is way high up the ladder compared with an NBA championship.

    Maybe TJ could stay in the Spurs and teach the young ones instead?

    Do the Spurs have other options in the market? I’m quite hesitant about going on a trade as everybody else fits like a glove in the current roster, and I don’t think Anderson would be a good chip to trade for a point guard.

    Any rumors?

  • David

    It is sad to see a career never really get off the ground, its obvious that Ford has had some aweful aweful luck, but he has made the right decision, even though he didnt last long in the spurs itd be heartbreaking to see him get seriously injured out there. 

  • Rubadub

    In the current day of overpaid underachieving sportsman who lack class and humility, my hat tips to TJ for understanding the things most important in life are those we love at home.

    TJ gives up a small salary for a professional sportsperson but a huge one in comparison to an everday joe, and whilst he could have tried to play on and Family, and health are the utmost.  Class Act TJ.

  • Dcblanchard2_60

    Hate to see you go T J but wise decision. I’m crippled up now but I was able to be there for my kids growing up and as hard as it is to live this way now when I’ve always been active I don’t think I could have lived with it either if I couldn’t have been there for my kids. Believe me you will get plenty of satisfaction being there and helping your kids grow. I think its great the Spurs are going to let you stay around as a mentor/ Coach. I believe you have the ability to be a good one if you so desire, and theirs no org. better to learn under then the Spurs. Good luck in what ever you decide to do.

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