Pulling for T.J. For to Have an All-Star Season

By Joe Booker
Updated: July 24, 2005

T.J. FordHOUSTON, TX.—Former Willowridge and University of Texas basketball star T.J. Ford, who now directs traffic for the Milwaukee Bucks has gotten clearance to play basketball again.

His spine surgery was a success. He missed a season and a half because of back problems and his surgery.

T.J. has always been a class act as a high school All American who led Willowridge to back-to-back state basketball titles and an All American at the University of Texas.

He exemplifies what athletes should be on and off the court. I am pulling for him to have an All Star season.

At 5-11, T.J. has excelled at all levels. He was All-American at Willowridge and at Texas. He was voted the National Freshman of the Year and became the first freshman in NCAA history to lead the nation in assists.

When most critics felt he was too small to make it in the NBA, all he did was lead all rookies in assists until his spinal injury forced him to sit out. In 55 games as a rookie he averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He quickly quieted his critics. Prior to his injury he was becoming one of the elite guards in the NBA.

T.J. was the Bucks’ top choice with the 8th pick in the first round in 2003. He became an instant success and was on his way to becoming one of the elite point guards in the NBA before his spinal injury against Minnesota in February of 2003, forced him to have surgery and sit out the past year and a half.

“It was a little scary having to have the surgery,” he said. “Now that the surgery is over the scary part is over.”

Did Ford have any doubts that he could return to the game he loves?

It has been difficult,” he said. “There have been ups and downs, but I have been surrounded by people who have supported and encouraged me.”

Bucks general manager Larry Harris feels Ford will be ready when the bell rings.

“T.J.’s situation is one that we feel like he’s going to be ready come training camp,” said Harris soon after Ford’s surgery.

When Ford returns he will have 7-foot rookie and top choice in the draft Andrew Bogut from Utah to make his no-look, slick passes to.

The Bucks who lost to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs last season will be an improved team with the return of Ford and the addition of Bogut. However, a proven shooting guard could be a concern. Ford not known for his out-side scoring may have to pick up the slack.

Even though he was unable to play last season Ford was part of the team. He traveled with the team throughout its playoff run.

One of T.J.’s dreams is to improve his game back to the All-Star caliber it was before his injury and play in the 2006 All-Star Game. It would be a sweet dream comes true, because the 2006 All-Star Game will be at the Toyota Center in his hometown of Houston. That is enough motivation for him to return his game back to the T.J. of old.

This time around he hopes he can take the Bucks deeper into the playoffs. He realizes that the Pistons are still in the same division and it will not be easy. But during the difficult has been part of T.J.’s success.