PART of Robert Jaworski’s appeal has always been his mystique. So little is known about Jaworski the man except for the things he bothers to reveal, which are a few. He is outspoken about a lot of things, but not when it concerns his personal life.
That mystique is none more pronounced that it is today. At a time when celebrated athletes tweet everything from their whereabouts to the restaurants they visit down to the girls they are dating, the Big J remains an enigma.
As a result, Jaworski remains an interesting copy to this day. Heck, he’s probably one of only three Filipino sportsmen – the other two are Manny Pacquiao and Tommy Manotoc – who can have a bestseller of a tell-all book if he decides to write one.
However, a little cooperation by Jaworski’s close friends and material unearthed from the archives have allowed us to come up with this list of interesting trivia about the man.
But we better add a disclaimer here. For with the Big J, you can never be too sure.
1) HEALTH FREAK
How does a health freak like Jaworski stay in shape at age 66? By playing tennis three to five times a week, that’s how. And mind you, not doubles like men his age but singles. He is also into swimming, but close friends say you will most likely see Jaworski at the Corinthian Gardens tennis courts during his free time.
2) GREAT COMPANY
Jaworski had two of the greatest names in Philippine basketball as sponsors in his wedding. Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, his coach at University of the East, and Caloy ‘The Great Difference’ Loyzaga stood as ninongs when the Big J, then 22, married Evelyn Revilla – daughter of action star Ramon Revilla Sr. – in 1968.
3) TIME MACHINE
Well before Piolo Pascual’s time, there was Jaworski as the country’s top watch endorser. According to a former business associate, the Living Legend was the first endorser of Timex watches in the country. Time was also something he never deprived his fans. At the height of his popularity, he was always the last to leave the venue because he entertained as many autograph and photo requests as he could.
4) IF THE SHOE FITS
Jaworski was the first player to have an endorsement deal with a shoe company when Converse signed him to a contract in the eighties. And not just any contract. If a longtime business associate is to be believed, Jaworski’s shoe deals then would put the endorsement contracts of today’s PBA stars to shame – bar none. He was also the first PBA star to have an eponymous shoe brand, the Kaypee Jawo. Nowadays he is often seen wearing Nike and Converse shoes.
5) DOCTOR J
Records showed he was born on March 8, 1946 to Theodore Jaworski, a Pole, and the former Iluminada Salazar who was a native of Baguio. It was also in the City of Pines where the couple met. Their only child dreamed of becoming a doctor because of all the white-clad physicians he often saw near the place where his father worked.
6) MR. BIG
Jaworski wears size 13 shoes, but the first thing basketball fans and sports scribes noticed about him were his unusually big hands. It was in fact those hands that led to his most famous moniker, given him by the late Tony Siddayao, the recognized dean of Filipino sportswriters. Before Big J, he went by the name ‘Big Hands.’
7) MOVIE STAR
Jaworski appeared in a couple of movies of his father-in-law Ramon Revilla, Sr., but he did his first on the personal invitation of The King himself, Fernando Poe, Jr. He was introduced in the action film Fando directed by Pablo Santiago and starring FPJ, a basketball enthusiast himself who for so long maintained a touring team of movie stars.