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T.J. Ford Enjoys Playing The Role Of Mentor

Last weekend, TJ Ford played the role of NBA Mentor at the adidas Nations Experience in Dallas, which brings together young players from around the world for some serious hoops. From the looks of this picture (thanks HoopsAddict), TJ was enjoying himself.

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Nice to see a Pacer point guard smile (ht: HoopsAddict)

Yesterday, Mike Wells posted a Pacers Insider item pondering which Pacer(s) would emerge as a team leader after all of the offseason changes. Judging by his comments while in Dallas, TJ is ready and willing to accept that role.

Bill Ingram with HoopsWorld caught up with Ford at the event and when talk turned to the Pacers, TJ expressed excitement about playing a big role in turning around the franchise.

"I think this will be the first time in my career, since I've been in the NBA, where I'll be able to lead more by example and have the opportunity to teach guys, to be more vocal. I'll be able to build confidence in my teammates, and knowing that we don't have any superstar players, no All-Stars, you don't have to play second fiddle to anybody. The ball will be in my hands where I can make plays for my teammates and I think it will be a good opportunity for me and also for our team. I understand a lot of people will not pick us to make the playoffs, but since I've been in the NBA it's been like that every season. I'm used to it, I know what it takes, and I can't wait to shock a lot of people this season."

Big success in the NBA dictates a superstar (or three) emerge for a team, whether they be homegrown or bartered for on the open market. Danny Granger could emerge as a superstar-caliber player this year but those are some hefty expectations. I'd be happy with Danny solidifying a first option role on the team.

The Pacers are rebuilding on the fly so waiting for an All-Star to emerge is fine at this point. I'd much rather have several solid players digging in, playing a role and expanding their game, than relying on an All-Star player with a big cap number to carry the team. I like the idea of this group grinding it out together with no one deferring to one or two players. Between TJ and Jarrett Jack there should be plenty of spirited motivation vocalized, which should make Jim O'Brien smile, not to mention allow his vocal chords to make it further into the season before crying uncle.