Today TJ Ford, a former Texas Longhorn legend and Toronto Raptor hung up his sneakers and called it a career after yet another injury forced him out of the game.
Ford who played his entire career with a spinal contusion, still went into the paint time after time and his hard-nosed and determined play put him on the map during his college career with the Longhorns then with the Bucks where he missed the final 26 games then the entire 04-05 season with his spinal contusion injury that he picked up after a foul from Mark Madsen.
In 06-07 Bryan Colangelo made what was the best trade in his tenure as Raptors GM when he traded Charlie Villanueva to the Bucks for Ford. TJ shined as a starter with the Raptors and combined with Jose Calderon’s off the bench play and his chemistry with Chris Bosh the Raptors enjoyed what was their best non-Vince Carter season winning the Atlantic Division before breaking the hearts of Raptors nation with a six game exit to the hated Vince Carter led New Jersey Nets.
In 07-08 TJ Ford continued to be clutch for the Raptors before Al Horford gave him yet another career threatening injury with a flagrant foul. After he came back he was placed on the bench behind Jose Calderon who was having a breakout season in Ford’s absence, Ford was never the same after the injury and after a five game exit to the Magic and constant debate over who would start at point guard the Raptors infamously traded Ford to the Pacers for Jermaine O’Neal.
Ford never again reached the success that he experience as a Raptor in his stops in Indiana and San Antonio and his true potential was never discovered. Despite the fact that going out every night could potentially cripple him for the rest of his life, Ford played hard no matter what and was a fearless competitor.
In a franchise that has been short on fan favorites and players that gave it their all TJ Ford brought a playing style that we could all cheer for and embrace, sure he might have been over-confident in his abilities and refused to come off the bench, forcing his way out of Toronto, but Ford never stopped playing hard. We are all left to say “What if” as one of the few true Raptors heroes calls it a career and lets all remember the memorable moments he gave us during those two crazy seasons.
Thanks for the memories TJ.