Davis cheering for JYDExpects warm ACC reception -- for teammate
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun
Antonio Davis knows he's going to be booed at the Air Canada Centre tonight, and he admits it will hurt a little.
But regardless of the reaction Davis receives, he insists he will not be resentful when Jerome Williams is cheered. In fact, Davis hopes Williams, the self-proclaimed Junk Yard Dog, is greeted by a thunderous ovation.
"That won't bother me at all," said Davis, whose Chicago Bulls will take on the Raptors tonight in the first meeting between the two clubs in Toronto since the big three-for-three trade featuring Davis and Williams last December.
"I understand Jerome made it clear to everyone he wanted to stay in Toronto. He had just bought a house and had a lot of things going on, off the court and in the community. I still feel badly for Jerome that he was part of the trade. I was the one with the issues."
There undoubtedly will be a bipolar atmosphere in the arena tonight. Williams, understandably, is excited.
"I'll always look forward to going back to the T-Dot," said Williams, who has missed most of the past three games due to a toe injury. But he practised yesterday and said he expects to play tonight.
"You'll have to chain me up to keep me out of this one," said Williams, one of the most beloved players in Raptors history. "I have a lot of people to see and a lot of business things to take care of in a short time. I'll have my hands full. But as for the game itself, I can't wait to see the fans again."
Davis, understandably, is wary.
"I'm really kind of neutral (about returning to Toronto), only because I'm not expecting a warm welcome," Davis said. "I don't want it to turn into a circus. I just feel I'm not going to be very welcome.
"In some ways, it does hurt. I remember the good seasons we had in Toronto. And I felt I had a great rapport with the fans right up until the end. I'm not sure they totally understood why I felt the way I did.
"I love the city. Any player who has an opportunity to play in Toronto should jump at the chance. You won't find fans who are more dedicated. I had just reached a stage in my career and in my family life where I had other things to consider."
Davis and his wife Kendra decided last summer that rather than continuing to live in Toronto, she and the couple's two children would remain in Chicago, where Kendra has numerous relatives. As the season began, Davis longed for his family, but he also had grown frustrated by the Raptors' ever-changing cast of characters. For both those reasons, Davis wanted to be traded. The fact he wound up being dealt to Chicago was a welcome coincidence.
Obviously, both Davis and Williams understood they were joining one of the worst teams in the NBA.
"I didn't quite understand to this extent," said Davis, referring to the Bulls' 18-49 record. "It's a learning stage for a lot of people on this team. All I can hope is that I'm doing my part to help them improve each day. I hope they're happy with me. The bottom line is, this is what I wanted. I'm not going to take that back because of our record."
Williams was blunt in his assessment of the Bulls.
"This would be a lot easier to take if we had a better record," Williams said. "We're pretty bad. That makes it hard."
Of course, the Bulls were good enough to beat the Raptors twice previously in Chicago this season. It's a head-to-head streak that the Raptors -- and in particular Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall, who went from Chicago to Toronto in the December deal -- desperately want to snap.
The Raptors still are battling for a playoff spot, but that's not why tonight is special. The extra intrigue comes courtesy of Davis and Williams, who assuredly will find themselves at opposite ends of an emotional firestorm.