HE was offered the chance to suit up one last time in Ginebra’s red and white, and perhaps make one last trip down the floor, before his fabled No. 7 jersey is permanently retired.
True to his character, Robert Jaworski declined.
“Coach Sonny told us he would need a good 10 months to a year to get in shape kung gagawin n’ya yon,” said Noli Eala, former PBA commissioner and now San Miguel Corporation’s director of sports. “Gusto n’ya if he was going to do it, dapat naka-kondisyon s’ya for that.”
Eala said they also tinkered with the idea of Jaworski participating in a three-point shootout, with a promotion thrown in letting fans guess how many shots the “Living legend” would make. Prizes would be handed out and all proceeds would go to charity.
Jaworski liked the idea but asked for time to polish his shooting touch. “Bigyan lang daw ‘sya ng isang buwan para mag-ensayo, payag s’ya,” said Eala.
That in essence best captured the legacy of the PBA’s most popular player, who is set to be honored with a jersey retirement ceremony on July 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
He was never the best shooter or the flashiest scorer. He was by no means the most gifted player or the best coach. He wasn’t even the best in his position. But he worked the hardest in every single game he played and rallied those around him to do the same.
Since his last official game with Ginebra in 1997 at age 51, Jaworski has made himself scarce on the popular legends circuit. He has consistently declined invitations to play, not because he doesn’t have the time but because he doesn’t want people to see him nowhere close to top shape.
One rare exception was the blockbuster Crispa-Toyota reunion game on May 30, 2003, which people close to him swore Jaworski prepared so hard for. He ended up making the biggest shot of the night in leading the Toyota legends to a 65-61.
On Friday, Jaworski was adamant he won’t do anything unless he knows he can give it his best.
“I have been extended so many offers that I wanted to get involved in. However, I also have certain rules in life. If I cannot do a little of what I want to do, I won’t mess around with it. Kung sasaling-pusa lang po ako, hindi na lang,” Jaworski said.
“Awa ng Diyos, nakakatakbo pa naman ako. Ang abs ko dati walang taba. Ngayon, merong konting taba pero kayang alisin. Pero kagaya ng sinabi ko kanina, kung hindi ko magagawa ng kaaya-aya, kung puro rayuma aabutin ko, ayaw ko naman po maging ganoon.”