T.J. Ford doesn't believe he was a problem for the Raptors last year and says his old team's sluggish start, a five-game losing streak and firing of the coach supports his case.
While the Indiana Pacers' point guard was adamant he wished no ill to his old team, especially opposite number Jose Calderon, he said he was pegged as the bad guy, the expendable one last season, in the decision to trade himself, Maceo Baston and Rasho Nesterovic for Jermaine O'Neal and the sidelined Nathan Jawai.
"It wasn't one party the way it was made out to be," Ford said at this morning's shootaround prior to tonight's first game against the Raptors at the ACC. "I got the blame for so-called messing things up, not being happy, whatever it was. But as you see, I wasn't the only problem."
The Raptors are having various difficulties, have fired coach Sam Mitchell and O'Neal has yet to play as consistently as Ford has for Indiana. Ford said he fully expected the July 9 trade after the Raptors quick exit from the NBA playoffs.
"I knew (a trade was inevitable), all you guys knew it, it was a matter of who had the guts to really say it. When you've been in front of the media for that long a period of time and no one defends you, then obviously your chances of being traded are high.
"Jose was playing well before (he took Ford's starting role). I think, either way it goes, the same (conflict) would have happened. I came back and hadn't missed much of a beat, it was just a matter of minutes. Could they have done things different? We can all go back to the drawing board.
"You guys have to do your jobs. They (the media) made a controversy and I was the guy they chose. They needed a disgruntled guy. It is what it is."
But Ford wished most of the Raptor organization well in the long run.
"No personal agenda, nothing against Jose's character," Ford said. "I think a win (for Indy tonight) is a statement, more than individual stats."