This quote caught me off-guard when I first read it.
"It was something I needed for my own self," he said. "I haven't been playing the type of basketball I'm capable of playing. I think this is something that can help me confidence wise, playing wise."
T.J. short on confidence? I always figured if Ford's game ever deteriorated, the last thing to go would be his confidence. He wouldn't smell the league at six feet tall without that cocksure attitude he seems at ease expressing.
While the cocky attitude can make T.J. tick, I always worry it will lead to internal strife when adversity strikes. Like say, when the team loses its first three games and T.J.'s play has him on the bench at key moments during the game. Will he point fingers at the Jim O'Brien or certain teammates, absolving himself of blame figuring he wasn't given the chance or support needed to succeed?
Reading the little quote above feels about as good as seeing the final score from the Garden last night. After T.J. came through, instead of saying, see, all I needed was a chance, he instead admits his game wasn't where it needed to be. Without directly saying it, he confirms he deserved to be on the bench for those extended minutes.
Wow, this is an interesting new dynamic to consider with T.J. As he showed last night and in past games last season, T.J. can make big plays in big moments. He can light up the scoreboard and carry the team for big stretches of a game.
Is he consistent? No. Does he struggle at times working within the offense? Yes.
Still, the Pacers need everything they can get out of T.J. and carrying that confidence he's known for is critical. Hopefully he found a heavy dose of swagger in New York and can put it to good use for the rest of the season.