Known as a hustler, a character and an undeniable fan favourite during his time as an NBA player, Jerome Williams’ sudden retirement last year signalled the last we’d seen of him on the basketball court. Fortunately for those in attendance at Martin Luther King Towers on this sticky Saturday evening, the man they call the “Junkyard Dog” was convinced to lace ‘em up one more time to show Harlem he could hang with the best the world of streetball had to offer.
Naturally, we were there to witness it, and we also managed to infiltrate the sea of supporters to ask JYD a couple of questions following the game. Read on for our interview with Jerome Williams, exclusive to HoopsVibe.com.
C.Y. Ellis: We haven’t seen much of the Junkyard Dog lately. What brings you out here today?
Jerome Williams: Man, Diddy put the call in personally to the dog pound, so I had to come out and represent. He said “The team is undefeated; you need to get at ‘em.” He called out the other beast because he already got “The Beast” on the team. So we came in, rebounded, got a little nasty on the boards. You know, I tried to save the rim, leave a piece for him and his crew ‘cause I don’t want to the games to stop. After I came down off the rim, it was all good, and that’s how we do. Junkyard Dog came out of retirement since April 2005, shut it down at the Kingdome. I’m 1 and 0, baby. I’m undefeated since my retirement.
CYE: It’s been a while since we’ve seen you on the NBA hardwood. How do you feel out there? It still looked like you had a little spring in your step.
JW: You know, a little spring left. There’s still a little spring in the dog, but I’m a little bit of a TV mogul now with “Make it Hot” airing on MSG on Monday nights. Tune in, ‘cause that’s what the JYD is really up to. When I’m not doing that, I’m changing the world, coming to a school near you. I’ve got a little “Change the World” tour coming out, doing assemblies in New York City public schools and all that with my brother Jonny Williams. We’re about to change the world for the kids; I just want you to get at that.
CYE: There are a lot of franchises with deficiencies at the power and small forward positions. Do you think there’s a chance any of these teams will make the call, or are you done for good now?
JW: Man, they’ve been calling since I left! The tally is about twenty million that’s been turned down, and you can print that.
CYE: What have been some of the more notable offers?
JW: I ain’t throwing no names out there. You gotta call the teams! They know who they are! It ain’t no secret, but I ain’t gonna put ‘em on blast, ‘cause I might have to change my mind one day.
CYE: What are your main initiatives now that you’re not in the NBA?
JW: My brother and I, we’re doing assemblies for the kids, hitting Harlem, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn. I’m going across the world with the NBA for “Basketball Without Borders”, hitting South Africa, Shanghai – just got back from Puerto Rico. It’s an initiative by the NBA where we go in and do community service in those countries. We’re doing basketball camps for all the top talent across the world, so we’re trying to go over there and change their perspective on life and do what we do because these kids are our future. I appreciate all the support they gave me while I was playing, so I’m here for them now. You see the “JYD” t-shirts out here. You see how they’re rocking ‘em.
CYE: There’s still a big contingent of JYD fans, particularly in New York and Toronto. Do you have any messages for the fans who are asking after you?
JW: Aw, man, that’s my dog pound. They always know where the dog is. Next week, I will be in Toronto. For the New York City dog pound, I’m in the Kingdome today. It’s going down! You’d better be where it’s at ‘cause the dog pound is barking all day, every day. You can hear ‘em!