NINE years ago, when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) formally retired the iconic No. 7 Barangay Ginebra jersey at the Araneta Coliseum, I wrote of PBA legend Robert Jaworski:
“No one knows exactly what it was about Jaworski but to this day, his name remains synonymous with local basketball.
Long after winning his only PBA Most Valuable Player award in 1978 while playing for crowd favorite Toyota Tamaraws, earning the first of four PBA championships with Ginebra in 1986 and playing his farewell basketball game in 1998, Jaworski is still Jaworski.
Basketball fans all over the country still want to talk about Jaworski, the “Living Legend.”
I guess everything will be alright as long as there is Jaworski in basketball. That way, fans will never get old. It’s always 1978 or 1986. Basketball is played a lot better. That’s what keeps all of us young.”
Well, Jaworski, the “Barreling Big J” himself, is back in the conversation again.
Last March 8, Jaworski turned 75.
Jaworski is also now one of the leading nominees in the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
The official announcement of the latest batch of enshrines will be made by the PSC on March12, or four days after Jaworski’s birthday.
But as one veteran basketball expert put it: “You just can’t imagine a list of Filipino sports greats without Jaworski.”
Jaworski and basketball are really synonymous to each other. HIs name even went into the vocabulary. Every husband in the country would now say that his wife guard him ala Jaworski, drawing comparison to Jaworski’s trademark defense to a jealous wife’s strategy.
His No. 7 jersey is probably the most popular number now worn even in basketball played in the backyard street. His legion of loyal fans and followers rival only that of the late action king, Fernando Poe, Jr. In fact, his basketball popularity propelled him to a seat in the Philippine Senate in 1998.
One of his landmark bills on his concern for the people and the environment is the Clean Water Act
As a player and coach, his records speak volumes about the man.
-PBA’s 25 Greatest Player.
-PBA, PSA and SCOOP Hall of Fame awardee
– Olympics and Asian Games veteran.
-PBA All-Star (1989-92)
-PBA MVP (1978)
-PBA Mythical Team member (8 times)
– PBA All-Defensive Team ( 4 times).
-Best MICAA player ( 4 times)
– UAAP MVP
– Led Philippine team to the silver medal in the 1990 Asian Games.
– Won four championship as a playing coach in 1986 Open Conference, 1988 All-Filipino Conference, 1991 First Conference and 1997 Commissioner’s Cup, all with Ginebra San Miguel.
– Coached the 1990 PBA All-Star Veterans, 1991 PBA All-Star Dark Team, 1992 PBA All-Star North Team, 1996 PBA All-Star Rookie/Sophomore/Juniors, and 1997 PBA All-Star Veterans
“Ang buhay parang basketball,” said Jaworski in a short but meaningful speech when he attended my Mom Virgie’s 70th birthday celebrations in Camp Crame Multi-Purpose Hall in July, 2012.
“One has to live and play by the rules to enjoy it and be successful as well. It’s not an easy 24/7 thing. You have to have a dream to wrap with full dedication, hard work and prayers to God to help you conquer the challenges that come your way,” Jaworski told close to 300 relatives-guests.
Added Jaworski: “Basketball is clearly a unifying factor that keep families and friends together. Isang pamilya tayo. And this also explains why the country’s biggest corporations continue to support basketball.”
In looking back on a long and colorful career as a true sportsman, Jaworski was asked if he had any regrets, any things he had done differently.
“No regrets. I did it my way,” he said.
Until now, Jaworski is still doing it his way. And that’s what keeps us young.
NOTES — Welcome to the family, Apollo Nathaniel Andaya-Padilla, first child of my only daughter Steffi and husband Homer Padilla. Nathan was born at 3: 45 a.m. on March 8 at the FEU-NRMF Hospital in Fairview, Quezon City. As his name suggests, Nathan is another God’s gift to the family…
Happy birthday, too to my son Robert James, who turned 28 also last March 8…
Birthday wishes also to Derlyn Maceda, the lovely wife of Community Basketball Association (CBA) founding president-actor Carlo Maceda.
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