TJ Ford Interview
Point guard TJ Ford was a Milwaukee Bucks rookie in 2003-04, played very well for 55 games, but went down with a back injury that kept him out until this season. He's back and looks better than ever. It's only two games into the season, but Ford is averaging an incredible 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game. After Wednesday's Bucks game in New Jersey, InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner talked to Ford after the game. Here's what was said:
Question: So when Maurice Williams came in tonight, you transformed into a bit of a shooting guard.
T.J. Ford: We're both point guards, but Mo brought it up and I was just trying to create some space on the wing, and make it a little bit easier for the team. I just did what was smart at the time.
Question: Are you surprised that you're playing so well considering how you were out of the league for so long?
T.J. Ford: I trained hard for this, man. I'm not looking back. This is what I trained for. I trained for this season. I trained myself to play a lot of minutes. I trained myself to withstand all the hits and withstand all the physical contact. So I can be in at the end of the game, no matter how many minutes I play. I'm in great condition.
Question: Are you quicker now than you were before getting hurt?
T.J. Ford: I really couldn't judge that myself, but I think just the fact that I added some other things to my game, people can't really just concentrate on my speed. I think they have to concentrate on a lot of other things. Now everybody's not just expecting me to [fly] by everybody every time now. Just by adding different things to my game, people are thinking that I'm faster.
Question: With all that said, you also do seem faster.
T.J. Ford: Well I'm in better shape. Coming in your rookie season, you don't know what to expect. Every game is new, it's a new experience. Coming in, you don't know what the travel is like. You don't know how to rest, when to rest throughout the game. You learn. The 55 games that I played, however many games I played in my first year, I took that and knew what I needed to do.
Question: Did you worry at any point during that year and a half or however long you were out that you may not be able to get back to where you were before?
T.J. Ford: Sitting out a year and a half, of course it crossed my mind. I couldn't sit here and say that it didn't, I wouldn't be honest with you. But, it's just the fact that, one month, two months, three, it keeps adding up. And you expect to be back playing in 4-6 months, and that four and six come and you're on the court, and you're not even close to playing. So those thoughts do come through in your mind. But I just pray and stay close to family and just stay patient.
Question: Did any doctors at any point specifically say to you that they're not positive you'll be able to...
T.J. Ford: No no no, it wasn't a question. It wasn't no doubt that I was going to play this season. It was just a matter of resting and doing all those right things for my career. Me rushing back wasn't the right thing to do and wasn't nothing to play around with, because my injury, it's life, it's dealing with my life, it's not just dealing with a knee or ACL or something like that. This is dealing with my well-being, walking and playing with kids, and having certain feelings, so that was really important to be patient and not rush coming back.
Question: Allen Iverson was really impressed with by how you played defense against him on opening night.
T.J. Ford: I'm a competitor. I'm not trying to let anybody on any given night out-play me or out-do me, so that's the mind-set that I'm coming in with. Some nights, that's not the case. This is the NBA and this here's great players, but for the most part every night I'm trying to do the best I can and lock a lot of people up.
Question: Being able to play defense against Iverson is impressive.
T.J. Ford: For ya'll, ya'll may think that it's great. Everybody think that there's a lot of people in the league that can't be guarded. It's just about will and determination. Anybody can be guarded if you focus on them and you lock into playing D. But this is the NBA. A lot of guys focus on offense more than defense. I'm just trying to be like Ron Artest, do both on both ends.
Question: You're trying to be like Ron Artest?
T.J. Ford: (Laughs) Naw I'm just saying, he plays good D. Every night, he plays. Nobody's going to say, that's a mismatch, on no given night. Everybody knows what kind of defensive player he is. So when you're going in against Indiana, you know that Ron Artest is going to play great defense and he's going to play hard.
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