Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 3/12/12
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Spurs point guard T.J. Ford abruptly retired Monday following the latest scare to his surgically repaired spine that once sideline him for an entire NBA season and hampered the dazzling promise that made him a college star. Ford, told reporters that lying motionless March 7 on the court against the New York Knicks wasn't the first time it had happened, and that he decided to walk away while he still had a chance. He was playing just his 14th game in an injury-prone season when Knicks guard Baron Davis elbowed him in the back, knocking him to the ground. The 28-year-old Ford didn't move for several minutes and wobbled while being helped off the court. "If it's anybody else, it's just a regular play," Ford told reporters at a Spurs practice before Monday's game against Washington. "But because of me and my condition a, simple elbow in the back has a different outcome than hitting someone else in the back." Drafted eighth overall by Milwaukee in 2003, Ford also played for the Raptors and Pacers but never quite reached the potential that made him the Naismith and Wooden player of the year at Texas. He led the Longhorns to the Final Four as a sophomore, helping turn football-obsessed Texas into a rising basketball power that gave the program the profile to recruit stars like Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge. But Ford was just 55 games into his rookie season when a collision with Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen changed his career. He landed hard on his tailbone after releasing a short jumper and instantly felt numb after slamming to the ground. Trainers immobilized Ford's neck and carted him off on a stretcher. Ford underwent spinal fusion surgery and missed the entire following season. He returned to the Bucks in 2005 and was traded in 2006 to Toronto, where Ford began putting together his best seasons. He averaged 14.9 points and 7.9 assists in his Raptors debut, and his scoring average hit a career-high of 14.9 points with Indiana in 2008-09. But by the next season, at 26, Ford was already transitioning from a franchise point guard to a backup. He still took satisfaction in a career that was mostly played against the advice of doctors. "I think I succeeded at beating the odds, of being the little guy, making it to the NBA and lasting as long as I did," Ford said. "I think I achieved a lot. I know I didn't have the career I anticipated and everyone anticipated, me having been the player of the year (at Texas). But I think I still had a successful career." NBA players offered best wishes to Ford on Twitter. They included the Knicks' Davis, who said he talked with Ford by phone Monday. "Sad that he is retiring and feeling worse that I was involved in that play! love and respect bro," Davis tweeted. LeBron James, picked first overall the same year Ford was drafted, tweeted, "Man sorry to hear about my 03 draft classmate TJ Ford! Get healthy and hopefully see u back on the court someday!" That isn't likely, though Ford said he still wants to be around basketball. "I don't think anyone plans to retire early," Ford said. "I was hoping I could get to that 34-36 age. It's tough. I wasn't planning on coming into this season retiring." Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who signed Ford in December to be Tony Parker's backup, said the team enjoyed having him around. "I congratulate him on all that he has achieved as a player and fully support the difficult decision he was forced to make," Popovich said. Knocked out most of the year because of a nagging hamstring, Ford averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds with the Spurs. For his career, Ford played in 429 games, averaging 11.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.16 steals 27.7 minutes per game.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mike Trout to undergo MRI after suffering thumb injury

John Wall: Bench was cause of Wizards’ ‘downfall’

Arum says Pacquiao would fight McGregor if Mayweather won't

Aaron Judge hits first grand slam of his career

David Stern: Lakers could have had Chris Paul, GM panicked

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brandon Jacobs vows to 'expose' Jim Harbaugh, get him fired

Mike Zimmer won’t retire even if right eye goes blind

Kevin Love responds to Draymond Green’s ‘annihilation’ trash talk

Spike Lee deletes Instagram post saying Kaepernick signed with Seattle

Errol Spence is the real deal, takes down Kell Brook

Indians reveal Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Box Score 5/26: Bring on the Finals

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Meet your Stanley Cup finalists: Nashville Predators

Getaway Day: There's a murderer's row in the NL West

Journey to the Stanley Cup Final: Pittsburgh Penguins

Best of Yardbarker: Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

The 'More like Whiffer, Texas Ranger...amirite?' quiz

Stanley Cup Final: A David vs. Goliath matchup that's not as lopsided as it may appear

Manu Ginobili gave life to the San Antonio Spurs

The Rewind: Vince Carter's graduation day celebration that wasn't

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Kicking It: East is East, and West is West

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker