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  Sat, November 1, 2003


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JYD barks for a special hero
Shines with Stan the Man in crowd
By KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun


It is assumed that the athletes are the role models, that the athletes inspire. Sometimes, it's the other way around.

Last night, Jerome Williams was thrilled to author one of the biggest night's of his NBA career, scoring 17 points to go with 13 hard-earned rebounds in a gritty come-from-behind 82-79 Raptor win over Washington.

Thrilled, because one of his heroes -- a real hero, not the manufactured kind -- was there to see it.

"One of my guys from Sick Kids hospital was here tonight," said Williams, eyes glistening with emotion.

"His name is Stan the Man. That's what I call him and that's the way he wants people to know him. They only gave him a week to live. And it's already a week and three days since I was sitting in his hospital room. We read bible scriptures together.

"I was just happy to see him here tonight. I didn't know he was coming to the game but that was very uplifting, just to be able to have that kind of game and to have one of my biggest fans still with us.

"The Dawg Pound is definitely barking."

It has not been an easy autumn to this point for Williams. Early on in camp, he found himself in new coach Kevin O'Neill's doghouse, playing behind Jerome Moiso.

But as time went on, Williams earned his spot in the rotation with his trademark enthusiasm and energy. He had a big night in the opener on Wednesday, against New Jersey, then followed up with a monster performance last night.

Some of Williams' perseverance seems to have rubbed off on another guy, Morris Peterson, who has been in a bit of a funk, deprived of precious minutes because O'Neill has preferred to use others, like Michael Curry and Milt Palacio.

He even sounded off, mildly this week, suggesting that he might be interested in moving on. But last night he didn't play like a man who wanted out and he certainly wasn't talking like one afterward.

"It felt good to be out there, playing and helping us win," Peterson said. "I guess the better you play, the more minutes you're gonna get."

In truth, the Raptors were truly horrible in the early going, unable to put any points on the board. Their 27 points in the first half was a franchise worst. Still, they stayed in touch with the Wizards, who never led by more than 13.

"A lot of that (lack of scoring) was my fault in the first half," O'Neill said. "I was calling a few too many plays, too many jump-shot plays.

"They were bad calls and I kept going to them."

But while Toronto didn't make anything happen on offence, they maintained their defensive vigilance.

"We didn't score much, but neither did they," said Vince Carter, who scored 26 points. "We were still defending. Sometimes when you're shooting poorly, the other team can run it up but we stayed tough."

So did the Wizards, until Chris Bosh's dunk with eight minutes left gave Toronto its first lead of the night, 80-79.

It remained tight right to the finish but Bosh's basket in the final minute off a nifty behind-the-back feed from Carter proved to be the winner.

So, now the Raptors are a heady 2-0, a position they've never been in as they head into Minnesota tonight against the Timberwolves, a premier outfit.

Last night, though, at least for awhile, Jerome Williams could savour a classy performance. Williams always is a crowd-pleaser. Perhaps that is one of the reasons he fell out of favour with O'Neill early on.

O'Neill is a no-nonsense kind of guy and it's quite possible he saw Williams flair for the dramatic as unnecessary. Sometimes simple is better.

But Williams didn't let it get him down. Maybe Stan the Man had something to do with that.

"It certainly puts a lot of things in perspective," Williams said. "Here's a kid, given a week to live and he's a fighter. He was able to make the game tonight and that's a much bigger accomplishment in itself than us winning."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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