(T.J.) Ford Tough

So your 2003 College Player of the Year is banged up; on December 10 the Toronto Raptors’ T.J. Ford played with a busted thumb that led to a 1-9 effort from the floor against a Sacramento Kings squad that is nothing to write home to mom about. Which is good because if the Kings did write a letter home, Chris Paul would probably steal it before it made its way to the mailbox.

But we digress.

Ford’s worse now with the whole head-against-the-floor thing that … what, you don’t watch the NBA? Probably too busy that Monday watching Jerious Norwood lead the Falcons in rushing for a pitiful 21 yards against a sloppy New Orleans team whose front seven are as threatening as a bag of daisies.

Here’s what you missed:

December 11, Raptors vs. Hawks, and Ford’s having a great game. He’s knocking down 73% from the floor, good for 26 points. With 1:36 left in regulation, Toronto is up 92-84. Ford manages a steal and breakaway that would leave Allen Iverson in the dust. Al Horford is the only pursuer, reaching back and landing a full-out block of Chocolate Thunder proportions to Ford’s face. (How new is Horford to the league? Key him in the search bar at ESPN.com and you will only find his college stats.) Problem being the ball is a good three feet away, impossible to be blocked, and about to be silkily reversed against the backboard for a deuce.

Instead, his head is volleyball-spiked, bouncing off the hardwood. He’s carted off in a stretcher, with his second neck injury in three weeks.

Biology lesson. Ford has spinal stenosis, a condition where his spinal cord does not have the same room to move within the vertebrae as normal. The vertebrae themselves can actually pinch the main stem of the cord. Remember his history too, missing the 2004-'05 Bucks season after surgery. He’s not the Troy Aikman of basketball. It’s something much more dangerous.

Still how goddamn humble is Ford? He actually told the media, “My head got caught in the wrong position.” What!? You’re not tying your shoes in a batting cage here. Horford was beat, embarrassed, and dumb. It was brutal. If Ford won’t say it, we will.

The facts: He looked good the next day during a locker-room interview; groggy, soft-spoken, but no slurred speech, no amnesia, and looking forward to getting back on the court. Then reports of arm stingers and numbness, and as of December 20, he has decided to fly to New York for a second specialist (and look). That same day, ESPN.com’s Guy Lake reported, “The news that he has consulted not one but two surgeons should be setting off alarm bells … This news makes it appear that another surgery is a possibility.”

Looks frighteningly unlikely we’ll watch Ford’s 25 minutes and 14.1 points per game anytime soon. If again.

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