TJ Ford: "The scary part is over"
TJ Ford: It means now I can go out and just relax. Next season I will be back on the court. It’s just a matter of taking necessary steps and not trying to rush. When I come back, I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people. You may see me in the All-Star Game here in Houston (grinning). That’s my goal, that’s what I think about when I’m putting in all this hard work. Show people that even though I had a tough injury, I’m going to bounce back.
Next season, will you be at risk in any way?
TJF: I think there’s always going to be some risk. But is the risk high? No. I’m going to play without any worries. The scary part is over. Having the surgery was the scary part. The biggest thing now is playing without fear, not worrying about getting hit. Or if I do take a hard hit or a hard foul, how will I react. What everyone is watching and waiting for is the first fall to see if I do get up. I’m not concerned.
Where have you made the most progress this summer, especially since resuming workouts in May?
TJF: I think my entire game, but in particular getting my conditioning back and really working on my jump shot. When I first started back in the gym at Rice (University) in early May, I was really really out of shape. Right now, I’m where I want to be and actually ahead of schedule, although obviously I still have a lot of work ahead. My body is responding well. There was one week when I took time off, but other than that my body is holding up well.
You went 14 months without any on-court basketball activity. How much ground are you having to make up?
TJF: I had to start at the bottom. I had to condition my body and working on my form, getting my shot right. I’ve been out a year and a half so it’s real important to train my body rather just go out and play five-on-five.
Given the injury and your laborious comeback, are you just as confident now that you can accomplish everything in your career that you originally believed when the Bucks drafted you No. 8 in the first round in 2003?
TJF: Absolutely. When I got hurt, I really thought I was reaching the level I wanted to as a rookie. I was only getting better, making smarter decisions. I view the injury, the surgery, the rehab as strictly a temporary setback.
Describe what this last year and a half has been like for you, on the sideline, some of the thoughts that have swirled through your head when hearing the speculation that you might never be the same type of player again.
TJF: It’s been hard. I’ve had my ups and downs, but had also had strong people around me to keep me motivated and keep giving me positive information, make sure a keep a positive attitude.
All things happen for a reason, even if it’s a negative situation. What will you gain from his ordeal? How have these ordeals made you a better person and how might they make you a better player?
TJF: I sat for a year and a half and watched the game, studied how teams and players react to certain game situations. It’s a view I’ve never had before because I’ve always been on the floor. It’s given me a more analytical approach. I know I appreciate the game and the opportunity much more than before. I just pray that I’m able to perform and have a long career and do what I’ve been able to do my entire basketball life. No one can really put a timetable on how long they’ll be able to play. When my time is up, it’s up.
Keith Calkins is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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