San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. Ford announced that he will take an indefinite leave of absence from basketball activities this season. And then on Twitter today, he announced his retirement from the NBA.
The 28-year-old Texas native suffered a series of neck and spine injuries during his eight-year NBA career, most recently a stinger on March 7 vs. New York.
“While this was a tough decision to make, it is what is best for me and my family at this time,” said Ford. “I have been blessed to play alongside wonderful teammates for great coaches and organizations from high school, to college, to the NBA. Regardless of what the future holds, I will carry the experiences, the friendships and the memories with me forever. The support I’ve received from family, friends and the fans has been humbling and I am looking forward to evaluating my professional options following this season.”
Ford joined the Spurs on Dec. 10, 2011. He appeared in 14 games for the Silver and Black, averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes.
“The entire organization has enjoyed having T.J. Ford in San Antonio this season,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “I congratulate him on all that he has achieved as a player and fully support the difficult decision he was forced to make. T.J. has a bright future ahead of him and will always be a member of the Spurs family.”
Prior to signing with San Antonio the 6-0, 165-pound point guard enjoyed stints with Milwaukee, Toronto and Indiana. Ford was selected by the Bucks in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft, with the eighth overall pick, after playing two seasons at the University of Texas. He enjoyed his best NBA season during the 2008-09 campaign, averaging 14.9 points, 5.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 74 games with the Pacers. In 2004, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, after posting averages of 7.1 points and 6.5 assists. Midway through his rookie season Ford suffered a spinal injury that he would later have surgery on which forced him to miss the entire 2004-05 season. 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.
Ford enjoyed an outstanding high school and collegiate career in the state of Texas. In his final two seasons at Willowridge High School, his teams posted a 75-1 record, capturing back-to-back Texas 5A State Championships. In two seasons at the University of Texas, Ford averaged 12.9 points and 8.8 assists. During his sophomore year he was named both the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year Award winner and earned 2003 First Team All-American honors.
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