Raptors forward Jerome Williams, one of our NBA.commentators for NBA Playoffs 2001, answered questions from fans immediately following the Raptors' 92-85 Game 1 loss to the Knicks. The Raptors are down in the series 0-1 to the Knicks in the Eastern Conference first round.
Compared to the team from last year, do you feel that the Raptors are ready defensively to battle the Knicks and possibly eliminate them?
I think that we definitely have a better chance, what with players coming off the bench, such as Keon Clark, Chris Childs, myself who are really known for defensive intensity. I really believe that if we come out and play the way we are capable of playing, that defensively we have a better chance than the team from last year.
How did you get to be such a good rebounder?
I think it started early on, rebounding for my dad outside. He used to shoot a lot of jumpers and his percentage wasn't the best. Until he got hot. I used to rebound for him and the key was I'd never let the ball touch the ground. I'd try to chase it down before it touched the ground. All that and just hard work as a youngster paid off and made me quick on my feet.
What will you have to do to try and improve this team's performance in the playoffs?
Just come out and give the team something extra off the bench. Whether that's hustle plays, diving into the stands for loose balls, getting some steals, pulling down offensive rebounds or pumping up the crowd with a thunderous dunk.
I love the energy you have brought to the Toronto Raptors -- you're so much fun to watch! I wanted to know where you developed this positive attitude? Keep smiling.
I guess from my parents. That's the way I was taught. Always stay positive. They were pretty positive and it comes from a happy childhood.
First, I want to say that it's great to see you as a Raptor. What kind of person are you, you know, outside the court? I mean, what kind of things to do on your free time?
I'm known as the Junk Yard Dog on the court so off the court, I'm more of a pound puppy. I just try to stay low key and sign an autograph here or there when I can. Basically just have fun with my family.
I just wanted to say that I love the Raptors and you guys are da bomb! And I wanted to know, what do you miss the most when you're away from home? Thanks so much.
Mom's cooking. When I'm away from home I miss Mom's cooking because when you're on the road, you get a lot of hotel food, a lot of take-out and a lot of carry-out. Nothing is as good as Mom's home cooking. The specialty -- we'll be on on Mother's Day, preparing our meatloaf (on the Food Network). So you're going to have to check that out everybody.
I really admire the energy and spark you provide the team with on and off the court. What will you do to keep the Raps inspired during the battle with the Knicks?
A lot of cheering, a lot of pumping the fist, keeping my teammates motivated and just trying to stay up because you don't want to get long faces during the playoffs.
How do you find Raptor fans in general, not necessarily directed towards you but as a fan base, how are we?
As a fan base, I always noticed that Toronto had good fans. Before I even played here, I noticed they were very energetic. I think that since they're new to the game of basketball, they're not in the know as far as what to expect from the players. That gives them a little bit more of a plus because they're easier to entice. They're easier to get motivated because they don't know that some communities just sit the entire game without clapping. They don't know that. It's good to have energetic fans because you know that as long as they bring the energy, we'll definitely bring the energy.
Jerome, lots of people think that you bring a lot of life to the team. How do you see your role expanding come playoff time?
Eduardo and Jacqueline
You never know when your number is going to get called. The main thing is you just have to stay motivated, keep your teammates motivated and stay ready to play. That's what the Junk Yard Dog is going to do -- step out on the court and give it his all whenever he gets a chance.