Ford ready to prove he can lead Raps to playoffs

RYAN WOLSTAT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Throughout the history of the Raptors, a trade north of the border usually has caused NBA players to react with shock and horror.

Not so with T.J. Ford.

The diminutive point guard, acquired last week from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for Charlie Villanueva, was in town yesterday for a physical and sounded upbeat as he met the media.

"I don't think people really understand how excited I am (to be here)," Ford, said.

"Me and Chris Bosh are real good friends, so that goes a long way. We want to be one of the best combos in the NBA. (The Raptors are) putting a lot of good guys together. We're going to be a lot better than last season."

Ford said he also is happy to be getting a fresh start with a franchise that fits his playing style.

"Being in a situation that I can go up and down, I think I get to show my leadership skills," he said. "I really wasn't able to do (that) in Milwaukee the way I felt I should have."

Ford added that he has an excellent relationship with Raptors coach Sam Mitchell and assistant Jim Todd, both former assistants with the Bucks.

Ford missed a season and a half after suffering a contusion of the spinal cord, but said he is no more of a health risk than any other player in the league.

"My health is not an issue anymore," he said. "I proved that I could play a full season (72 games last season). I was cleared by my doctor, I don't ever have to see him again."

Making the fans forget about the popular Villanueva will be a tough task for Ford, but the 23-year-old expects to endear himself to the Air Canada Centre crowd through his unselfish play.

"I'm going to try to put players in the right situation for them to better their games. My job is to come in here and try to make everybody happy, get everybody involved and I'll get mine later."

NO GO FOR SOW

Raptors forward Pape Sow underwent successful surgery in Las Vegas Thursday night to repair a fracture of the C6 vertebrae in his neck.

Sow was injured Tuesday during a team practice before the start of the Vegas Summer League. No timetable has been set for his return, but Sow is expected to be out for a lengthy period of time.


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