Page 2 Staff
Tell T.J. Ford he's too small to be a star in the NBA and he'll run circles around you. Tell him his outside J isn't consistent enough and he'll blow by you in a blur. Tell him it's going to be a long, hard road riding with the Clippers and he'll tell you he relishes the challenge. Tell him this is the NBA and he'll say bring it on.
Unflappable, that's what he is. Quick, steely, smooth, and fearless -- with the world and the ball on a string.
What do you with a guy like that? You pepper him with 10 Burning Questions from Page 2's Eric Neel, to see if he's really ready for the show.
1. Hard question first: what will you wear on draft night?
Ford: I got a nice Zegna suit, man. It's what I look good in.
Who is the best-dressed NBA player of all time?
Ford: I guess Jordan. I don't get to see too much of the postgame stuff. I'm too busy practicing and playing.
2. Do you have a sense of where you're going to go?
Ford: I really don't, man. I have no idea what team is most likely to pick me. You don't know what they're thinking. You hear different rumors every day.
What's the best part of being a lottery prospect?
Ford: Knowing you're going to get drafted, you know? Knowing that you're safe and can take care of your family.
Was it a hard decision for you to leave school?
Ford: It was, because I hated to leave the college atmosphere. And I know that everything's going to change now. I know it's a business now and that's how I have to treat it. College was probably the greatest two years of my life so far. I'll miss everything about it: the classes, the students, mingling with people, parties, football games.
3. What's the worst part of being a lottery prospect?
Ford: I don't really think there is a bad part. Most years, most of the teams in the lottery didn't make the playoffs the year before, but this year there's a lot of balance. I feel good about it.
4. If you had your choice, coming into the league, would you rather be a bench player for a team that wins it all next year, or get a lot of playing time for a team that struggles next year?
Ford: I'm not big on sitting on the bench or starting. I think you have to go in with the attitude that you're going to work your way into whatever you get, earn your spot. That's how I'm going to approach everything -- that's the way I've always approached everything. I'm going in knowing I'm not a starter, and try and earn it. I want to come in and be able to help the team in any kind of way, whether that's on the bench or on the court.
5. How have you been spending your time since the NCAA Tourney ended? Have you been working out in advance of the draft?
Ford: I've been working out and playing a lot of XBox.
When you play, what team do you play as?
Ford: Lately, I've been creating myself and playing on all the teams I think I have a chance to go to in the draft, trying to get a feel for it that way.
What uni did you look the best in?
Ford: (Laughs) I think I look good in all the uniforms.
You've got all the right answers.
Do you give the XBox T.J. any special moves or skills?
Ford: Nah, I try to keep it realistic as possible. I try not to make myself anything more than what I already am.
6. What's your best move on the floor?
Ford: Getting in the lane and creating something out of nothing. That's what I like best.
What's your best move off the floor?
Ford: Video games, video games, video games -- that's what I do almost all the time. I play with family and friends. I play with anyone I can.
6. Speaking of your skills, you know there are some people out there saying your outside game is a concern. What do you say to them?
Ford: That's just opinions. Everyone has a right to their opinions and I respect that. But I believe in myself and I know what I'm capable of doing. I take notes on myself and I know what I'm working on, and as long as I achieve what I'm capable of, and keep becoming a better player, people can say whatever they want about me.
7. Word association: LeBron.
Ford: Great. He's great. He's got a lot of talent and he's exciting to watch.
Ford: Fantastic overall player, can rebound pass, score. He can do everything.
Ford: Never seen him. He's a mystery.
Ford: Likes to have fun, wants to get better, play hard, and enjoy what he does.
8. Which one guy in the NBA did you grow up idolizing, and who now you're going to have to go heads-up with?
Ford: Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury, and Allen Iverson.
Do you think you'll be at all intimidated by those guys?
Ford: I can't be. I'm coming in and trying to set things up for myself, so, you know, I'm not going to be intimidated by anyone.
What do you think will be the biggest shock for you, making the jump from college ball to the league?
Ford: The money. Financially, everything is going to be a lot different. It's hard not to think about. It's incredible to know that there's so much money, and that you can do a lot for your family, and you can live so much better.
You ready for people to recognize you on the street?
Ford: I don't know. I think so. For the most part, people don't really bother me a whole lot. I just try not to change who I am.
How do you stay grounded?
Ford: It's the way my parents raised me, to always be humble and respectful. My father was my hero growing up. He motivates me all the time. He stays on me, never lets me settle, always pushes me to get better.
9. You won the Wooden Award this past season. Tell me what that meant to you.
Ford: It was a great honor. It was something I'll never forget, something I'll be able to share with my kids some day. It's such a prestigious award, and it just felt real good to know what I'd done over the years to be able to win the award. And spending time with Mr. Wooden was great. It's amazing the things that he knows and how alert he is to what's going on today. He was great.
10. If you could be any one other player in the NBA for one day, just to know what it feels like, who would you choose?
Ford: Shaq. I'd love to be Shaq for one day, big as he is.
You looking forward to charging the lane and seeing him in your way?
Ford:Yeah, just hope he doesn't fall on me is all.