Jaworski: 'We are just retiring my jersey'

Basketball icon's #7 to be retired on July 8

Philippine basketball’s “Living Legend” will finally have his jersey retired on July 8 in extravagant fashion with a jersey retirement ceremony right after the first semifinals game of that day in the on-going PBA Governor’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.  Robert Jaworski Sr.’s Ginebra San Miguel No. 7 jersey will be honored as a tribute to the country’s most popular basketball icon.

But the man they call the “Big J” clarified that it’s just his jersey being retired and not necessarily him.  “We're just retiring my jersey…Thinking about the retirement has never come to my mind because so many things have gone so fast... I treasure these moments in the PBA…but there are so many memories, a whole day will not be enough," said Jaworski.

The scribes present during the press conference of the event, sponsored by Ginebra San Miguel, repeatedly asked about the possibility of a comeback in the PBA since he never really signified retirement after his last game on March 1997, which was held in Dumaguete City.  He was 50 years old then, making him the oldest player to ever play in the PBA.

“Parang gusto ko jersey muna.  I don’t want to say I’m retiring from the PBA because it’s the second love of my life after my wife,” quipped Jaworski.  “Awa ng Diyos nakakatakbo pa naman ako…don’t worry, I might have some surprises.  Ang abs ko dati wala kahit konting taba.  Ngayon may konting taba pero kaya namang alisin,” added the former playing coach of Ginebra.

Jaworski won a Senate seat in 1998, where he was credited for several legislations including the Philippine Sports Authority Law, the National Hall of Fame Law and the Clean Water Act.  He mostly worked on the conservation of the natural environment as he helped make the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range, the Batanes group of islands and Mt. Kanlaon among others as protected areas.

Senator Jaworski also co-authored the Clean Air Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and other legislations protecting the country’s national marine sanctuaries, and filed a bill imposing strict penalties on oil pollution damage on Philippine waters.

While a senator, he was extended royal treatment by NBA Commissioner David Stern in 1999, when Jaworski attended an NBA game.

When asked if he intended to run for the Senate again, Jaworski responded, “Mahirap sa tao yung nagsasalita ng tapos.”

Jaworski had a stellar PBA career, both as a player and playing coach.  He was the season MVP in 1978, and named to the Mythical First Team six times.  As playing coach, he won four PBA titles for the Ginebra franchise.  And as one of the few big point guards to ever play in the PBA, he still holds the all-time record for most assists, with a total of 5,825 in his career.

The former University of the East star also served the national team several times.  He played in the 1968 Olympic Games, and the 1974 World Championships, where the Philippines finished 13th place in both tournaments.  In 1990, he led the country to a silver medal in basketball in the Asian Games, this time as head coach.

"The retirement ceremony of Jaworski's number 7 Ginebra San Miguel jersey is our way of thanking the Big J for his invaluable contribution to Ginebra San Miguel the brand and company, to his contribution to Philippine basketball, and to his contribution to Filipino pop culture in general," said Ginebra San Miguel President Bernard Marquez.  “The names Jaworski and Ginebra are almost synonymous with each other…Siya ang pinakasikat na salesman ng Ginebra hanggang ngayon,” added Marquez.

Technically, even when his jersey is retired, Jaworski can still make a comeback as a player in the PBA for as long as he wears a different number, or plays for another team than Ginebra.

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