Ford hits milestone in his recovery

Milwaukee Bucks point guard T.J. Ford shot baskets with his doctor’s permission Saturday for the first time since bruising his spinal cord almost 14 months ago.

“I was excited to finally be able to touch a basketball — with permission,” Ford said.

Ford was cleared to resume basketball activities last week, almost a year after Cervical spinal surgery. He was injured Feb. 24, 2004, when he landed on his tailbone during a game, the third time that he had temporarily lost feeling in his extremities on the basketball court.

On Saturday, Ford shot baskets at the team’s training facility in the morning, then again at the Bradley Center several hours before the game between the Bucks and the Orlando Magic.

“It was a big sigh of relief. But at the same time, I understand how much work I have to put in,” Ford said.

Ford will undergo another battery of tests in six weeks, general manager Larry Harris said, after which Ford hopes to get clearance for contact so that he can resume his career in the fall.

But he doesn’t want to rush back into things. For now, he’s focusing on regaining his strength and stamina.

Ford, the eighth pick in the 2004 draft after leading Texas to the Final Four, had a huge impact as a rookie, averaging 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists while sharing point guard duties with Damon Jones. But after Ford was injured, the Bucks fell apart and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Detroit Pistons.

After surgery May 5, the Bucks anticipated Ford would return during training camp. But when tests continued to show bruising on the spinal cord, he was ruled out for the year.

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