TJ Ford's Big Steal: Shades of Hondo
When TJ Ford picked Gilbert Arenas's pocket the other night, the steal could not have meant more to the Milwaukee Bucks and their collective aspirations for this season. It was, in its own little way, a microcosm of John Havlicek's famous steal ("Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!!"). At the time of the steal the momentum clearly was going the way of the Wizards. In fact, I think the Bucks would have lost had he not made that magnificent defensive play. Had they lost, the season would have been over.
So lets give it up to the little man. He's had 3 excellent games in his last four. I've been ragging on him and Magliore for the better part of the season, and they've both by and large deserved it, but I don't consider the two of them similarly situated by any means. TJ is a guy with raw talent and, obviously -- given what he's overcome -- a good deal of self-determination. I don't ever question his heart. And, from what my sources tell me, he's not one of those guys who wastes a lot of energy getting drunk at cheesy Milwaukee dance bars ('paging Bobby Simmons, paging Bobby Simmons'). Like the Bucks leader, Michael Redd (who never goes out), Ford seems genuinely dedicated to his craft.
Its just that TJ has a frustrating inability to consistently translate his specific set of talents into on-court effectiveness. You see flashes, but you just don't see trends. I've always said I think he needs mental discipline, and something of a killer attitude. By sitting him down lately, maybe Coach Stotts is helping him find that in himself. Its been somewhat effective so far.
Magliore, on the other hand, is a complete waste of space. Have you been watching his stat lines? The guy's completely lost it, or he's quit on us. Either way he's deteriorating rapidly, like the Incredible Shrinking Center, or the Wicked Witch of the East after you add water. Its not been a pretty sight.