MANILA, Philippines – Basketball’s “Living Legend” Robert Jaworski asked one thing from today’s crop of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players: Play with all your heart.
|PBA's "Living Legend" Robert Jaworski. Photo by Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNnews.com
Jaworski, fondly known as “The Big J” or simply “Jawo,” said current hardcourt players should bring more passion into their game because that is what expected from them.
“Gusto ko pang makita ay konti pang sigla sa laro… Kung dati, asong ligaw lang nanood sa ‘yo, ngayon tao na, nagbabayad pa. Suklian n’yo,” said the 66-year-old basketball great.
Jaworski rose from the collegiate ranks and into Asia’s first pay-for-play league in the mid-1970s to become one of the most well-known basketball icons in the Philippines.
He was part of the Toyota team that waged a fabled rivalry with the Crispa Redmanizers.
Jaworski later became part of Ginebra San Miguel and became its playing coach in 1985.
He left the league in 1998 when he ran for the Philippine Senate, but his love for basketball never waned.
“Ang basketball kasi, hindi dahil sa nag-shoot eh, ang tinitignan po ay paano sila nakakashoot, paanong nakakatakbo, ‘yung pong commitment ng katawan, ng puso sa isip ang itinuturo natin, ‘yung pagkakaisa, ‘yung tulungan,” said Jaworski.
“Sana bigyan pa ng konti pang puso ng mga manlalaro ang basketball.”
On July 8, Sunday, Ginebra San Miguel will finally retire his iconic No. 7 jersey.
Jaworski was pleased with the company's gesture.
"I’m happy and honored to be accorded this honor," he said.
When told that he served as an inspiration for the present-day PBA players, including Ginebra superstar Mark "The Spark" Caguioa, he couldn't help but smile.
"S'yempre po nakakataba ng puso yan."