Guard bruised spinal cord on Feb. 24

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Milwaukee Bucks rookie point guard T.J. Ford has decided to undergo cervical spine surgery next month.

The operation is scheduled for the first week of May and will be
performed by Dr. Robert Watkins of the Los Angeles Spine Surgery

Ford, who has a history of back trouble, hasn't played in a game
since he bruised his spinal cord Feb. 24 when he landed on his
tailbone in a game against Minnesota.

It was the third time that he had temporarily lost feeling in
his extremities on the basketball court.

Ford is expected to make a full recovery and be back in time for
training camp next October after a three- to four-month recovery,
general manager Larry Harris said Friday.

"There's going to be a fusion of the vertebra and that's about
all I know from a medical standpoint," Harris said.

The Bucks sent Ford to spinal specialists across the country
over the last six weeks, and Harris termed Ford's decision a
difficult one.

"When you're dealing with the spinal cord, it's not like a knee
or an ankle," he said.

Ford "needed to be comfortable not only with the doctor, but
the diagnosis, the procedure and the long-term effects that this
might have," Harris added. "And I think he's confident, as we
are, that once this procedure's done, it's going to correct the
injury and he's going to be back on the court."

In 2001, Ford was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of
the openings of the vertebra the spinal cord runs through. After
consulting with doctors, he decided against surgery. He had another
scare in a pickup basketball game a year ago, but that didn't
prevent the Bucks from selecting him with the eighth pick in last
summer's NBA draft.

"It was not an issue at all," Harris said.

Ford averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists while
sharing point guard duties with Damon Jones for the Bucks this
season. When he was hurt, he was leading all rookies in assists.