Jan 8 2012; Oklahoma City OK, USA; San Antonio Spurs point guard T.J. Ford (11) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden (13) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena Mandatory Credit: Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE
The profileMinutes: 13.6Points: 3.6Rebounds: 1.3Assists: 3.2FG%: 44.2%3P%: 25.0%FT%: 78.6%
The (advanced) profileTS%: 51.9%USG%: 17.2%PER: 11.0Offensive PPP: 0.73 (411th)Defensive PPP: 0.84 (195th)Offensive rating (points per 100 possessions): 96Defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions): 104
First off, I’d like to apologize to T.J. Ford personally for skipping his season review. I intended to write these posts in sequential order by last name and, since F comes before G, I have failed in that regard. I realize he will probably never read this post but, regardless, I feel badly. In fact, I wish Ford’s tenure with San Antonio wouldn’t have ended so abruptly.
I have a weakness for diminutive point guards that are generally incapable of scoring for themselves. They compensate their athletic deficiencies by surveying the entire court effortlessly, picking beneficial spots to exploit and, well, exploiting them. But not for themselves. Never. The job of the floor general is to dictate tempo and alleviate the qualms of inefficiency that are inevitable in any NBA offense. Their job isn’t necessary but their mere presence is almost always beneficial.
It’s no surprise that Spurs’ lineups shot better when Floor presided over the court. They converted on 57.3% of their shots, a number that dipped to 54.5% without Ford. Ford assisted on nearly a third of the Spurs’ possessions. In other words, he assisted at a better rate than passing magician Manu Ginobili. Tony Parker led the team in assist percentage, sure, but Ford’s impact was undeniable.
Ford’s tenure with San Antonio represents a little smidgen in his eight year career. He logged nearly two percent of his total regular season minutes with the Spurs. After masquerading as the incumbent backup point guard — don’t get me wrong, his cameo wasn’t completely fruitless — Ford officially retired from basketball on March 12th after hitting the floor hard and laying motionless for a brief moment of time, long enough to startle anyone watching the game. Knicks guard Baron Davis was the culprit. Certainly a jarring experience.
He already had a dangerous history of injuries so you can understand the precaution he took to impede further damage to his body. Ford was drafted seven spots after LeBron James and eight-years later, while James is in his third NBA Finals, Ford is sitting home without a basketball career.
It’s a tragic occurrence in an otherwise promising career. The fact that Ford parlayed his diminutive body and propensity to induce physical contact into 429 NBA games is rather remarkable. He should be lauded for his career, his decision and, most importantly, the life he’ll live without the persistent risk of injury. Ford beat the odds and, though he couldn’t withstand one more season to fulfill the backup point guard role, his time wasn’t for naught.
Ford didn’t leave the Spurs organization without any ancillary help either. His love for basketball left him craving for more. He satiated his desire by accompanying the Spurs’ D-League associate, the Austin Toros, as an assistant coach. He worked closely with 2011 first round pick Cory Joseph which will hopefully reap huge benefits in the near future. San Antonio should be happy if Joseph picked up a modicum of Ford’s court awareness.
“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.”
That you did, T.J. That you did.
Performance of the year: Jan. 4, 2012 vs. Golden State. W 101-95.The line: 19:35 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 9 PTS | +16
A quintessential T.J. Ford game. Not a lot of shot attempts or rebounds. An elite amount of assists. Stays within himself. By simply appearing on the court, he makes the lives easier for his teammates.
Season grade: D