It's been a while since T.J. Ford led Houston's Willowridge Eagles to two state titles and a 62-game winning streak. Or since he led the Texas Longhorns to the 2003 NCAA Final Four. After a long career in the NBA, with stops in Milwaukee, Toronto and Indiana, Ford is back in town in order to prepare for next season. He is entering a contract year and is looking to impress the Pacers as well as potential suitors around the league. Sports Radio 1560 The Game's David Nuño sat down with T.J. on behalf of SB Nation Houston. The two discussed Ford's previous season, the challenges of a contract year and our golden free agent, Chris Bosh. Take a look.
David Nuño: T.J., how's your offseason? What have you been up to?
T.J. Ford: Offseason's been great for me. Good to be back in town. Getting back in shape and just trying to get better.
DN: Last year was an up-and-down year for you. I know you got injured toward the end, but it seemed like you found yourself again. The Pacers changed the system a little bit on you from the year prior... Talk about the challenges of last year.
Ford: I started off slow... It was difficult for me to make the adjustment, because I really wasn't used the same way I was my first year with the Pacers. So I kinda trained a certain way, and had a certain mentality. And getting in camp, it's kinda hard to go four months training a certain way, and then get in camp and have to make the adjustment... People don't understand it takes a lot longer than you'd think because, mentally, you've got to make the adjustment. And it was difficult for me. And it didn't help that we didn't start off too good, and then we were able to pick it up and then we hit another drought. Guys started getting hurt, and we weren't able to find that niche again.
So, for me, it was difficult. But it wasn't like I lost confidence within myself. It's just interesting because, at the same time, you only can be high for so long before you come down, and you can only be down for so long before you come up. You just gotta try and stay in the middle and know that the balance, it has to come back up, it can't get any worse. I think that's the mentality that I had, and fortunately I got another opportunity, and I showcased my skills and what I can do.
DN: This next year is a contract year for you. You chose to stay, you had a player option. You're young, but you're a veteran. That makes you and your contract very lucrative. There's going be a lot of teams looking for you. Where do you see T.J. Ford going?
Ford: I don't know. (Last year) I was a couple minutes away from getting traded to Charlotte, so... I'm not really sure. I'm not sure which direction they're going to take for this upcoming season. All I can say, as of now, I'm currently still a Pacer until they decide whether they're gonna keep me or they're gonna look to trade me. I don't know. I really don't know which direction they're going to take. I guess it really depends on next Thursday, when draft night comes, whether they either make a pick or sell it or trade it. So it'll be pretty interesting, but I'm not sure, right now, where I'll be for next season.
DN: We had you on our show earlier, and you told me you talked to some kids today and they asked you a question which I'll repeat here. You've played with some good players, but who is the best player that T.J. Ford has played with in his career?
TF: I think, NBA-wise, the best player that I've played with is Chris Bosh. He's a big time match-up problem; He can shoot the jumper, he has deep range, he can put it on the floor, he can go by you... I think his body frame is real deceptive, he's pretty strong and quick. And he's a lefty! So he has a lot of advantages, and he has a lot of weapons on the offensive end. It's unfortunate we weren't able to do it multiple years together... But I'd have to say, he's by far the best.
DN: Now, the reason I'm glad you said that is because the Rockets are very interested in adding a guy like Chris Bosh... I'm curious as to what your thoughts are on this. Would he be a good fit with Yao? Without Yao? With the current group? Can he fit on any team? Is he an alpha dog? What kind of player could he be with the Rockets?
TF: I guess it's a possibility, but I don't see it happening with the Rockets, in my opinion. I think the fact that so many guys wanna play with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, that they're in the best situation because they've been able to spend two to three years in the summertime with these guys, as free agents, being on the U.S. Olympic team. So I think that's the advantage they have over the Rockets.
DN: Last thing for you; Your alma mater, the University of Texas: a lot of great players have come out of there. Kevin Durant, I know he's been out there, he was an MVP candidate. What he did in the playoffs this year was very exciting... How are you guys doing? Tell me about everybody, 'cause I know you have a website together, you guys are doing some videos together?
TF: Yeah. Texas360Now.com. We're in the process now of redesigning, adding some better things to it... So, it's basically under construction. All the guys are doing well. Everybody's back in the gym. Kevin is definitely trying to take his game to the next level. This year he was by far a top five player, I think he's trying to get into talks of being one of the best players in the game. He's a work-a-holic. LaMarcus is in Dallas, probably just now getting back into the gym and trying to get better.
DN: Hopefully LaMarcus wasn't hanging with Vince last Saturday, if you know what I mean...
TF: Naw. Not L-Train...
DN: Make sure you also check out TJFordLive.com. It's got all the scoop on you, you've got a personal website out there... And thanks for joining us on SB Nation Houston.
TF: No problem.