Neck issues send NBA player into early retirement

Neck issues send NBA player into early retirement
March 12, 2012, 5:39 pm
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From Comcast SportsNet
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- San Antonio Spurs guard T.J. Ford is retiring, effective immediately, after a series of neck and spine injuries during eight years in the NBA. The 28-year-old Ford announced his decision Monday on Twitter. "Basketball has been great to me & my family for 28yrs," he wrote. "It's official " I Retire from the NBA " as of today." Ford released a statement through the team that referred to the injuries, the most recent a "stinger" he suffered on March 7 in a game against New York. "While this was a tough decision to make, it is what is best for me and my family at this time," Ford said. "Regardless of what the future holds, I will carry the experiences, the friendships and the memories with me forever." Ford joined the Spurs on Dec. 10, and appeared in 14 games, averaging 3.6 points, 3.2 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.6 minutes. Coach Gregg Popovich said the team enjoyed having Ford this season. "I congratulate him on all that he has achieved as a player and fully support the difficult decision he was forced to make," he said. Ford, a college star at Texas, was the eighth overall pick by Milwaukee in 2003. Halfway through his rookie season, he suffered a spinal injury and surgery forced him to miss the entire 2004-05 season. He played for the Bucks, Toronto and Indiana before joining the Spurs. For his career, Ford played in 429 games, averaging 11.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.16 steals 27.7 minutes per game. In two years for the Longhorns, Ford averaged 12.9 points and 8.8 assists per game and was both the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year Award winner in his sophomore year.