Ford out of hospital, but says he won't play this week

TORONTO -- Raptors guard T.J. Ford said Wednesday that he
plans take at least a week off before trying to resume any
basektball activity, but said a scary fall the previous night in
Atlanta doesn't have him worried about a career-ending injury.

Ford was released from an Atlanta hospital Wednesday and flew
home to Toronto, one day after his head struck the floor and he was
removed from the court on a stretcher.

"I'm going to give myself a week," Ford said after the Raptors
beat Dallas on Wednesday night. "It all depends on how my body
recovers. I don't think you can put a timetable on it."

Ford was injured when Atlanta rookie Al Horford struck him on
the head and knocked him down as Ford was trying to score on a breakaway with 1:32 left in the game. Horford, who was ejected for
a flagrant foul, said he was trying to block Ford's shot.

Ford spent the night in Atlanta's Piedmont Hospital for
observation and tests. The Raptors said Ford had feeling in his
extremities when taken off the court.

Horford, for his part, was unable to shake the incident from his mind, and visited Ford for several hours at the hospital Tuesday night. But it was Ford who made Horford feel better.

"T.J. was real cool," Horford said Wednesday afternoon, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, after the Hawks wrapped up a day of treatment and individual workouts at Philips Arena.
"Thank God he's doing better and he went home and everything. We spent some good time together and we just talked about the game and a lot of other stuff. He told me that he understood I didn't do it intentionally or anything like that. It was a really good visit."

Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo said the Hawks contacted the Raptors to express remorse about the incident.

"I know that Horford feels awful about it," Colangelo said.
"He spent a couple of hours at the hospital with (T.J.) last night
and, true to T.J.'s form, he was probably doing more of the
consoling. I think the kid (Horford) was pretty shaken up about it.
He felt awful. I don't think there was any intention to do harm."

Ford said he appreciated Horford's visit and told the rookie he wouldn't hold a grudge.

"It wasn't a dirty play at all," Ford said. "I think I just
kind of tricked him with the move and he got caught in a bad spot.
He's a good kid. I told him I'm not holding anything against him."

On Wednesday, Ford said both arms are still sore and that he is
unable to sleep comfortably.

When he does return, Ford said he won't be any more cautious
about contact.

"I understand I'm always playing with a risk," Ford said. "I
don't think the risk has changed. I don't think, after talking to
the medical doctors and the way that my body feels, that I'm
putting my career in jeopardy.

"If I felt that way, I don't think I would play because life is
more important," Ford added. "I have a son that I definitely want
to be able to play with. I don't think I could live with not being
able to do a lot of things with him. If it gets to that point, I
think I would definitely give it up."

Toronto's medical staff will conduct their own assessment of
Ford's condition before he resumes workouts.

"We just hope we can get him through this," Raptors coach Sam
Mitchell said before the game. "When he feels up to it, he'll
start practicing again."

In 2001, Ford was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of
the openings of the vertebra the spinal cord runs through.

He was injured in a February 2004 collision with Minnesota's
Mark Madsen, then missed the final 26 games of that season and the
entire 2004-05 season with Milwaukee because of neck surgery.

Ford was sidelined by a stinger during last season's first round
playoff series against New Jersey. He missed six games earlier this
season with a stinger in his left arm, the result of a Nov. 20
collision with Dallas' Josh Howard. Ford, who returned to action on
Dec. 7, is averaging 14.1 points and 6.8 assists.

Despite Ford's injury history,
Colangelo said he expects the 24-year-old to recover and continue

"You're always concerned about that type of thing and you
monitor it," Colangelo said. "The way I understand it, what's
been told to me by the various experts that have been consulted is
as long as there's no change in the neurological signs and the
imaging remains unchanged, he should be fine and at no greater risk
than he was prior to these episodes."

A smiling Ford received a loud ovation when he walked out to the
Raptors bench during a second quarter timeout Wednesday.

"I wanted to come out and support my teammates," Ford said.
"Whether I came out on the floor or not, I just wanted to show
those guys that I'm OK."

Ford's Toronto teammates were happy to see him up and walking.

"I'm just glad he's safe," forward Chris Bosh said. "It makes
you realize that some things are more important than basketball and
T.J.'s health is more important."

The Raptors sent a plane to Atlanta for Ford, director of
basketball operations Marc Eversley and assistant trainer Rory
Mullin. On the way back to Toronto, the plane stopped in Baltimore
to collect forward Jorge Garbajosa, who had surgery on his left leg

The Raptors have battled a number of injuries this season, with
Ford, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and Garbajosa all missing time.

"I can't remember the last time we had our team intact,"
Mitchell said. "It's been a while."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.