T.J. Ford Cleared for Takeoff

This just in: T.J. claims he’s pain free after going ass over teakettle following Al Horford’s “block attempt” mid-December. We emphasize “claim” because around these parts we know Ford, we know how much of a damn hard competitor the kid is, and know he’s walked across fire to get back onto the court from practically the same injury before. We believe him, however, because he’s also a damn smart kid – one who has been in this situation before.

“I can honestly say, yeah, [retirement] definitely comes across your mind," Ford admitted to Toronto radio station the Fan 590. “Especially as soon as it happens, when you are laying on the ground. It all plays the part when you are not able to move or get up on your own."

“At the beginning you wonder if you could play again, if you should play again. It depends on how quick your body can recover, what the doctors say and what you feel in your heart.”

Ford must feel basketball is still in his heart, because after being cleared to resume practice January 9, ESPN.com reports he plans to return home to Houston and work out with former Houston Rocket guard John Lucas. He and Lucas worked out together in 2004 after TJ’s first spinal injury as a rook.

“I'm feeling good,” Ford told the Fan. “My body has recovered all the way, and I’m not having any symptoms. I’m not waking up sore anymore and I’m not having pain throughout the day.”

Raptors director of media relations Jim LaBumbard concurred. “The prognosis is looking good for a full recovery and a return to basketball.”

The Raptor’s have been playing just a shade over .500 ball without Ford in the lineup, but they’re still not rushing him back to the hardwood. T.J. traveled to Cleveland the same day King James and Co. were taking the win from Toronto in Canada to see yet more specialists at the (drum roll, please) Cleveland Clinic.

Though ESPN’s news services thinks, same as Ford, that the former Longhorn will be back on the court again this season, they conclude their analysis ominously, “At this point there's no way to tell how many more games you’ll be able to get out of him.”

T.J., though, refuses to give either a timetable for his return or anything but hard-willed resolution toward his return to the court with a MacArthurian* attitude: “I feel I'm going to play. I know I'm going to play. It's a matter of when will I play,” Ford said. “This is not something that will keep me out for the rest of the season.”

* Douglas MacArthur. We’re playing slow-pitch softball here.

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