Thursday, April 17, 2003

Ford treated at hospital after pickup game

By Jim Vertuno
The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas - All-American guard T.J. Ford of Texas was injured during a pickup basketball game and was released from a hospital after four hours of treatment.

Team spokesman Scott McConnell would not elaborate on the injury, citing federal privacy laws.

He said Ford was conscious when he arrived and may have collided with another player. There were no coaches or trainers on the scene when he was injured at a campus gym.

A witness said Ford was playing with Texas basketball and football players and fell after he was slapped on the back of his neck, the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday in its online edition.

Texas coach Rick Barnes was smiling and joking after visiting Ford at the hospital but declined to comment on what happened.

The sophomore guard was taken by ambulance to St. David's Hospital and was treated for four hours by university medical staff and emergency room doctors. He left the hospital out of sight of reporters. Ford's parents, who live in Houston, were notified.

Ford led the Longhorns to their first Final Four appearance in 56 years. He said this week he may leave school early to enter the NBA draft in June.

Seth Galton, a Texas sophomore, was watching the pickup game and said Ford was dribbling up the court when he was slapped. Galton described the contact as "very minor."

"He was just looking at the sky, no hands or feet moving," he told the American-Statesman.

Before Ford's freshman season at Texas, he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the openings of the vertebra the spinal cord runs through. Ford decided against surgery and later tests showed the condition had improved.

Ford won the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Award, both college basketball player of the year honors.

He averaged 15 points and 7.7 assists, recording nine double-digit assist performances this season. His 527 career assists ranks second on Texas' career list.

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