PBA legend Ramon Fernandez said he understands league commissioner Chito Narvasa has his own management style, but at the same time streesed that he is not surprised at the growing anger of the fans.
Sought for comment on Narvasa's decision to hand out a lifetime ban post-haste on TNT import Ivan Johnson after an altercation on the court on Saturday, Fernandez said Narvasa has brought a leadership style never before seen in the league's 41 years.
It also comes with a lot of risks, he added.
“Yun nga, siya lang talaga ang commissioner na ganun ang style. Style nya yun, wala tayo magagawa run,” said Fernandez, regarded as the best player ever to suit up in the pro league.
“Now you’re asking me if maganda ba tignan? Well, you can just base the answer on comments of some credible people on social media, karamihan o halos lahat, hindi sang-ayon sa ganun,” he added.
Fernandez said he still keeps tab of events in the league and is very much aware of how Narvasa confronted Alaska veteran Dondon Hontiveros at the height of an on-court scuffle last January, and of how he engaged Johnson in a heated exchange of words on Saturday.
The sight of the commissioner being pacified by Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas and just recently by PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial, seemed odd for Fernandez.
“It doesn’t look good. Mas acceptable pa siguro kung commissioner ka, mayruong nag-aaway, ikaw ang magpa-pacify, hindi 'yung ikaw ang pina-pacify,” he said.
Asked if doing the same during his time as commissioner of the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) in the late nineties, the cage icon said it never crossed his mind.
“Hindi. Never. Never did I do that, expect kung 'yung mga fans nambabato ng coins, bote, whatever, yan pwede i-pacify mo yung mga tao pero not yung sa galit na paraan, makiusap ka,” he said.
“Kung nag-aaway ang mga players, no way na lulusob ako, merong mga referees and other officials, technical committee, they can very well handle that. I presume that they are trained for that,” added the 19-time PBA champion.
Asked to comment on the ‘on-the-spot’ banning of Johnson, Fernandez can only shake his head.
“Hindi maganda ang ganun na biglaang desisyon, na right there and then (papatawan mo ng mabigat na parusa),” Fernandez said.
“Ang alam ko kasi sa due process, ipapatawag mo muna sa office, para mag-explain. Mahirap mag-desisyon kung mainit ang ulo mo, 'yun ang iniiwasan natin,” said the pride of Maasin, Leyte.
Informed about the move of Johnson to voluntarily appear before Narvasa on Tuesday afternoon, Fernandez expressed apprehension.
“Oh, come on? Talaga? Kagaya nyan, wala nang magagawa siguro si commissioner dyan. Kung babawiin niya 'yung ban na nauna na niyang inimpose, mas lulutang yung (fact) na mainitin ang ulo niya tapos pabigla-bigla ang desisyon,” he explained. “Yun pala naman babaguhin.”
“Parang hindi pinag-isipan ang desisyon na lalabas (nya). 'Yun ang implication nun, if ever na babaguhin niya. Dapat nga talaga, the following day, ipatawag, para may time for that (to think and carefully evaluate the decision),” he added.
Having spanned five commissioners during his playing career, Fernandez was asked to compare the confidence of the fans during his time to that of Narvasa.
“All you really have to do now is go to social media and you will see the difference already of how fans perceive the PBA leadership as far as the Office of the Commissioner is concerned, compared to the previous years. Makikita mo na marami silang hindi nasasang-ayunan,” he said.
“Wala akong matandaan na ganun naging ang reaction ng fans to a decision ng commissioner, especially during those times I was playing. Dati kasi revered talaga yang posisyon na 'yan. Now, I cannot speculate, basahin na lang natin comments ng mga basketball fans sa social media,” he added.
And what is his take on the call of the fans for Narvasa’s resignation? “Wala! Nag-I-smile lang ako at inaabangan ang susunod na kabanata. Tignan natin.”