NBA players have announced what team they're signing with on Twitter, they've inadvertently announced coach firings on Twitter, they've sent well-wishes on Twitter, and they've cost themselves thousands of dollars on Twitter. We've got a new one to add to the list. San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. Ford, tired of working his way back from frightening neck injuries, has announced his retirement on Twitter.
Soon after the Spurs released a statement telling fans that Ford would be out for the season, Ford took to his Twitter account to relay the news:
It's an unfortunate end to a career that was equal parts fortunate and unfortunate. Ford first suffered a dangerous spinal injury midway through his rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks, after taking a hit from then-Minnesota forward Mark Madsen. Ford missed the entire 2004-05 season that followed, and though he improved a bit during his 2005-06 turn, the Bucks (mostly relying on the jump-shooting acumen of Mo Williams to run their show) didn't hesitate to send the smallish guard to Toronto in the offseason.
Though he played fewer minutes per game in Toronto, Ford blossomed in his pairing with frontcourt go-to guy Chris Bosh. He seemed well on his way toward fighting for an All-Star nod in 2007-08 when a thoughtless foul from rookie Hawks forward Al Horford sent Ford crashing to the floor. Horford was and is not a dirty player, but it was a clumsy move to commit in the presence of someone Ford's size, without even taking into consideration his injury history (which Horford was unaware of). Ford left the game on a stretcher, and though he returned later that season, his career was never the same.
Stints in Indiana and San Antonio followed, but Ford failed to help either team with his play. He was understandably uneasy with taking chances in the paint, a destructive trait for someone his size at this level, and because he never rounded into a good shooter his dribble-heavy ways wore on teammates and coaches. Earlier this year, playing in his ostensible prime at age 28, Ford was decidedly below average.
Though his retirement can't help but stir the "what might have been" echoes, it's probably for the best. Getting out of the game now allows for Ford to not have to consider his ease with day-to-day activities for the last 60 percent of his lifetime every time he decides to penetrate off of a screen and roll, which is something no player needs hanging over them. He was a stubborn player at times, but 5-10 point guards don't get to the NBA without a bit of an edge to them.
It's an unfortunate ending, but one that's likely best for all involved.
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