TJ Ford is back. There. I said it. Got a problem with it?
I know that making fearless declarations like that this early in the season is sheer absurdity, but I feel like it needs to be said. It just seems that so few people give the man the credit he’s due for the things that he has done and is doing. So if it means that I have to risk jinxing it all by giving him the Comeback Player of the Year Award– which the NBA doesn’t actually give out– pre-Thanksgiving, then I’m willing to do it.
If you didn’t know, Ford was injured about two-thirds of the way into the 2003-04 season, his first in the league. The fall he took wasn’t anything too unusual compared to what you’d see if you watched basketball regularly, but due to a pre-existing condition, he had to shut it down for the season. And the one after that as well. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t even able to touch a basketball court until the summer just past. Spinal stenosis ain’t nothing to mess with, kids. Despite all of that, he’s back in the league, starting for an early surprise team in the Eastern Conference, and playing pretty well. So why haven’t you heard more about it? Good question.
There’s a very good chance that I’m just being a homer about all of this. Ford went to college right down the street from my job so I was able to follow his bi-weekly exploits without too much trouble. I was able to see the transformation that took place when he stepped on the court for the Texas Longhorns. I saw the ball handling and the court vision. I saw the unmatched speed and the surprising athleticism for a guy standing fewer than six feet tall. I saw the wins start to stack up. I also saw pretty much the same thing once he came in to the league as the eighth pick in 2003, with him taking part in a Milwaukee Bucks turnaround that few expected. I saw the Bucks turn in a worse than lackluster 2004-05 season that would earn them the first pick in the 2004 draft. And I’ve seen the Bucks repeat their surprising success with Ford’s reinsertion into the lineup.
So I’m not asking for much here. I’m not going to ask you to vote him as a starter in the All-Star Game, even though it is going to be played in his hometown this season. I’m not going to pine for a roster spot in the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge like I did here. I don’t want you to buy his jersey or start following his progress night by night. Just give the man a little respect. Chris Kaman will back me up on this, I’m sure. . I don’t want you to buy his jersey or start following his progress night by night. Just give the man a little respect. Chris Kaman will back me up on this, I’m sure.
"Oh, he definitely deserves more credit than he gets now," Kaman said in a fictitious interview held after Ford put him on a poster last week. "I mean, besides his solid play thus far, he just put his privates on the back of my neck while dunking the ball. Unbelievable. Can you believe the Clippers passed over him to draft a stiff like me?"
Actually, Mr. Kaman, I can believe it. I don’t agree with it, but things have a way of working themselves out. But soon, people might not be able to overlook the semi-obvious anymore. At the end of the season, when Milwaukee finds themselves with a respectable record and TJ Ford’s fingerprints are all over their work, we’ll see how people are acting then.