Extinct Raptors adjusting to Chicago
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
CHICAGO -- Jerome Williams, Antonio Davis and Chris Jefferies gave interesting, and quite telling, responses when asked if they feel like full-fledged Chicago Bulls yet or if they still feel like Raptors. "I guess, you know, I might not feel like a Bull, but I am a Bull," said Williams, who was heartbroken when he was dealt with Davis and Jefferies from the Raptors to the Bulls on Dec. 1 for Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall and Lonny Baxter. The hurt still can be heard in Williams' voice.
Davis, whose personal situation was the driving force behind the deal, surprisingly said that on some days he doesn't feel like a Bull or a Raptor, but like an Indiana Pacer.
"Yeah, it's still difficult because of the rivalries I had with the Bulls," said Davis, whose first NBA team, the Pacers, pushed Michael Jordan and his mates to a bitterly fought seventh game in the 1998 Eastern Conference final. "Coming in here, looking at these championship banners, there actually still is something about it that doesn't sit right with me. I remember after we lost, I'm sitting in the United Center crying, things like that."
Jefferies indicated he noticed the change of countries as much as the change of teams.
"I don't think of myself as an ex-Raptor," Jefferies said. "It's more like I'm a former Canadian, almost."
Williams, Davis and Jefferies (who is on the injured list) will get a chance to see the Raptors for the first time since the swap in Chicago tomorrow afternoon. All three slowly are adjusting to their new situation and their new city, although the sorry state of the Bulls, who played host to the Dallas Mavericks last night, has not made the transition any easier.
"I'm hanging tough," said Williams, whose emotional link to the city of Toronto has been well documented. "I have to just keep remembering why I'm in this game and what blessings I have. I have to stay focused on the positive and not the negative."
Asked if he keeps an eye on how the Raptors are doing, Williams said, "Well, definitely, because they're ahead of us (in the standings). You can't help it."
Davis is thrilled to have been reunited with his wife and two kids, who were living full-time in Chicago even before the trade. But Davis acknowledged that on a strictly professional basis, he has noticed that the Bulls are a lot further down the NBA totem pole than the Raptors.
"I know that team (Raptors) are going to make the playoffs," Davis said. "They have their limitations, too, but night in and night out, they're not going to face the challenges we face here.
"I think that team (Raptors) does have an identity. We (the Bulls) have no identity, we have no sense of direction, and that's not good."
Added Williams, "We have young players who are looked upon as franchise players and that's what's wrong with this team. There are young players who are called to carry the burden of carrying a franchise, and they're not ready. That's the bottom line, they are not ready."
Someone who would love to be seen as ready is Jefferies, who to this point has been as much of an afterthought in Chicago as he was in Toronto. He didn't do himself any favours with his infamous anti-Rick Brunson rant -- Brunson is fairly popular in Bulls circles -- but Jefferies at least sees a faint light at the end of the tunnel in the Windy City.
"The feeling I got from (Raptors coach) Kevin O'Neill was that I never was going to play," Jefferies said. "It wasn't in those exact words, but that's what I got out of it. No matter what I did in practice, it wasn't going to change. Here it feels a lot better.
"Hopefully things will work out."
Now there's something on which Jefferies, Davis and Williams all can agree.