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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Raptors' JYD turns 'rassling ref
By CLEMENT YAU -- FOR SLAM! Wrestling

Jerome Williams asks questions about being a ref of Trish Stratus and Jim Korderas. -- Pejman Ramezanpour, CANOE
Toronto Raptors forward Jerome Williams, a.k.a. the Junk Yard Dog, will be going back to work at the Air Canada Centre next Saturday. However, instead of sporting his usual Raptors purple, he will be donning the black and white of a WWF referee.

Williams will be acting as special guest referee when Trish Stratus and Jacqueline take on the high flying duo of Lita and Molly Holly in a tag team Femme Fatale match.

For Williams, becoming involved with the world of professional wrestling is a natural progression from the hardwood floors of the NBA. After all, where else would a 6"9" man who constantly refers to himself as the Junk Yard Dog end up?

JYD's love affair with professional wrestling started when his father took him to local wrestling events when he was seven years old. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and has been hooked ever since.

He finally got the opportunity to get in on the act when he was playing for the Detroit Pistons, the team that drafted him out of Georgetown University.

Rodzilla himself, Dennis Rodman, took Williams to a WCW show that featured a match between Hulk Hogan and Diamond Dallas Page. That experience led to subsequent appearances for the fed.

When JYD was traded to Toronto last season, the WWF came calling and the opportunity to meet and work with individuals like The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Trish Stratus was too good for Williams to pass up.

For his role next Saturday as guest referee, Williams will have much the same approach as when he steps on the basketball court. He sees many similarities between his day job as an NBA player and this weekend gig as a referee, especially in terms of fan interaction.

"When the fans are chanting my name, that gets me pumped"

When asked how he would fare in the squared circle against the Mailman Karl Malone, a fellow NBA player who dabbled in professional wrestling, Williams cut a promo that was worthy of The Rock on a Monday night in Madison square Garden.

"Dogs and mailmen have always battled. Dogs did pretty well until the invention of mace," Williams said. "I know it will be a battle to the finish. They don't call me the Junk Yard Dog for nothing."

Some Raptor fans might take Williams's involvement in this house show as a positive sign that the free agent will resign with the Raps this summer. While Williams likes the city of Toronto and likes the direction the Raptors are heading in as an organization, he is looking forward to free agency and remains determined to test the free agent waters.

Williams likens the free agent experience to the unpredictable world of professional wrestling by saying that "the only thing I can say is that you never know what will happen."

For now, all JYD can do is concentrate on the task at hand, which is to make sure that the tag team match he is refereeing will be "neutral and called down the middle". And for anyone who is planning any funny business, JYD has some words of warning for them: "Dogs love to bite".

More on the Raptors in SLAM! Basketball




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