NBA / Mar 23, 2009 / 9:30 am

T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack fight


If in fact T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack comprise the least-watchable backcourt in the NBA (personally, I’d go with Mike James and DeShawn Stevenson, but that’s beside the point), it’s because they’re pretty much the same player. Jack is stronger, Ford is faster, but otherwise they’re both shoot-first point guards who happened to land in the ideal situation to suit their games — and aggravate their teammates.

Since Jim O’Brien‘s system pretty much allows Ford and Jack to, well, jack shots freely, and because they’re fighting for the long-term starting PG job, you knew something bad was around the corner, right?

In a situation that Mike Wells of the Indianaplis Star later said has been brewing for a while, Jack snapped on Ford during Friday’s loss to the Mavs, after three straight possessions had gone by and Ford shot the ball each time. From Wells’ blog (and thanks to Smack reader “dagwaller” for tipping me to this story):

Starting guards T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack had to be separated during a timeout in the middle of the third quarter of Friday’s loss to Dallas.

The two (started) arguing on the court and brought it to the huddle. Stephen Graham, Josh McRoberts and assistant coach Jay DeFruscio all went over to try and calm Jack down. Jack was sent to the locker room by coach Jim O’Brien. Ford was also taken out, but he checked back in with 8:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“We had a situation where Jarrett and T.J. had a dispute on the court,” O’Brien said. “I subbed for them and didn’t want to carry it over. I asked Jarrett to take the rest of the night off. That was my decision.”

A simple case of frustration boiling over from one ball-hog to another? Maybe. But I think Jack might have ulterior motives.

Look at T.J.’s history in these situations: In Milwaukee he battled Mo Williams for minutes, eventually getting traded before Mo was re-signed to a huge contract. In Toronto he fought with Jose Calderon for the starting spot … eventually getting traded before Jose was re-signed to a huge contract. Now it’s happening again in Indiana, and guess who’s coming up for free agency this summer? The same guy who could be trying to force Pacers’ management to trade somebody.

If the Ford/Jack situation doesn’t get resolved — for what it’s worth, both players stuck to the “It’s all behind us now” script when asked about it the next day — who would you keep? Ford is due $8.5 million next season, with a player-option ($8.5M) for the following year. Jack will be a restricted free agent this year, with a $2.8 million qualifying offer. Ford is averaging 15.1 points on 44 percent shooting from the field, 5.2 assists and 2.5 turnovers in 30 minutes a night. Jack is putting up 12.9 points on 45 percent shooting, 3.7 assists and 2.2 turnovers in 32 minutes.

O’Brien seems to have already made his choice. The night after Jack instigated the timeout incident and had his own little Kyle-Lee Watson moment (I can just see him smashing a folding chair against a locker after getting the boot), he was in the starting lineup, dropping 31 points on the Bobcats in 32 minutes, while Ford came off the bench and only took four shots in 21 minutes.

“We had lost five in a row,” O’Brien told the Indianapolis Star. “T.J. and I both talked, and he’s not playing at the top of his game. I decided to shake things up to see if we can get a jolt.”

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  • thomasmmm

    fighting made jack improve his fg%. let’s get it on.

  • http://hornetshype.com ticktock6

    I read that over the weekend and the first thing that jumped to mind was the “worst backcourt in the NBA” post.

  • karizmatic

    I don’t like either of them, but I’d take Jack and look for a real point guard in the meantime. Seems to me TJ is a cancer.

  • Brown

    Because I hate TJ Ford’s game with a passion, I’d take Jack over him any day. Jack can play some D, TJ gets abused by all NBA guards. I don’t believe any team can win in the playoffs with him on the team. He’s overpaid, has a terrible attitude and is detrimental to any team’s success. His stats are painfully misleading.

  • the_don_mega

    i agree… i think Jack is better at TJ in this situation. Jack was a good player even when he was still with the Blazers… TJ??? i dunno… i really thought he was a “classic” point guard coming out of Texas… i guess i was wrong…

  • E$

    I bet they are dancing @ the DIME office over this, a cancer? Pacers,Raptors,Bucks….these teams are a cancer to the NBA

  • Brown

    I don’t think he’s a “cancer.” He’s just a player you don’t want on your team if you have championship aspirations. I think he actually makes any team he’s on worse.

  • LakeShow84

    TJ Ford makes 8.5 million?!

    thats disguesting considering his game.. NO Defense and he is a jacker.. wow..

  • tony

    whats funny is that someone at dime hates tj. when he was the starting pg for the bucks they went to the playoffs 2 yrs. when he was in toronto they made 2 playoff trips. in indy they are better than they were before & can make the playoffs this yr when 2 starters have missed significant time this yr. since the bucks traded tj they have been horrible & the coach was fired. & correct me if im wrong mo williams was traded for damon jones & if he wasnt playing w? lbj would be a gunner on a sorry team. since tj left toronto they suck & mitchell was fired 17 games into the season. as far as the guy saying that tj #’s arent accurate “men lie, women lie #’s & results dont”

  • http://www.niketalk.yuku.com/forums/8 NTstateOFmind

    Dime, how about a topic regarding the All-Jacker team?
    …obviously antoine walker would be captain, but who else fills the starting 5?

  • aleksi

    The pacers playing better has nothing to do with TJ.

    He’s a viable scoring threat against some offenses, but like any jump shooter, unless you play the kings all season you’re bound to struggle sometimes.

    Pacers have been excellent because of granger, and troy murphy with some other complimenting parts. Ford is not one of them.

  • Mark

    I know people who say TJ Ford was/is a egotistical bastard. But you guys already know that, because egotistical bastard and professional athlete are pretty much synonymous anyway.

  • Big Island

    I’m not sure Josh McRoberts could pull Jack off of Ford. Neither one of them are Mo Williams or Calderon, but I would get rid of Ford so fast your head would spin.

  • jeremy

    deshawn has been injured all season so clearly you haven’t been watching him because he hasn’t been playing.

  • doc

    I think TJ has better talent,but he ain getting sent around the league for nothing,so give me Jack.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @tony — I don’t “hate” T.J. Ford. As a Pacers fan he does irritate/frustrate me often with his decision-making, but I do appreciate the times when he will take on the scoring load at times when Granger is out or when nobody else trying to score. And T.J.’s been a good dude from the times I worked with him, plus I respect where he’s come from with coming back from the injuries and everything.
    But I can’t sit here and say the Pacers are better because of him. Granger’s continued improvement, Murphy’s newfound consistency, these are the things I’d point at. I remember earlier in the season when Dunleavy was hurt and Ford was healthy, Granger was asked in an interview, “Who is your Robin?” (After another “Batman” reference. Without even thinking long, Granger said Marquis Daniels.

  • Promoman

    TJ’s game has regressed since his 1st injury. He went from pass-first to pass-last. He’s become just another guy who you’d better not pick up if you want to win. He has All-Star potential, but he’s too counterproductive and a liability to be given the reins to an offense at this point.

  • james

    If you check TJ’s record it is clear he has made every team he has been on better. And every team he has left, either b/c of trade or injury, has not come close to the playoffs. This will be the first year he has missed the playoffs, and he has not been on one playoff caliber team, when you subtract TJ.

    His rookie year he took a Bucks team that was picked to be one of the worst in the league after losing both Cassell and Allen to the playoffs.
    When he sat out his second year due to injury the Bucks don’t make the playoffs
    TJ returns after a year layoff the bucks again make the playoffs.
    TJ is then traded, All-Star point guard Mo Williams and the same team do not even come close to the playoffs the next two seasons.
    Toronto w/ TJ makes the playoffs two years in a row after not comming close the playoffs the prior season.
    TJ leaves and the same team with Jose Calderon don’t get close to the playoffs.

    It is not all coincidence. He had a PER of +20 last season. He does not fit well into O’brien’s system though. He is a penetrator that needs the ball in his hands. He does not fit into a ball motion offense. If O’brien used TJ properly, TJ would have taken another sub par team to the playoffs.

    Instead we are going to be stuck with Jack, who was cast off in favor of Blake, because he is not a true point guard.

    If you think TJ and Jack are the same player, you just have not been paying attention.

  • George W Kush Sr

    Seriously, they can sign Jack for $5M per, 3-4 years, $15-20M, why pay TJ $17M for 2 years? TJ has peaked, Jack will only get better yet still provides everything TJ does so you can actually look for a real PG.

    This is a team that also still has Tinsley on payroll.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @james — Eff all that PER stuff. I watch damn near every Pacers game, and I don’t see what T.J. does that Jack can’t do. Like I said, I don’t hate Ford. He was important to what the Bucks were doing, but the Raptors problems this year have a lot more to do than just not having Ford. And O’Brien’s system pretty much allows Ford to penetrate and do what he wants with the ball, so I don’t see how that’s the problem.

  • Brown

    The Raptors are terrible this year for a number of reasons that have plagued the team for years. Trading TJ away has absolutely nothing to do with that.

  • J-Lod

    Kyle Lee Watson caption was classic…”U STAY AWAY FROM MY MA”…