Jaworski chants roar anew in the legend’s jersey retirement ritesBy Celest R. Flores
“Ja-Wor-ski! Ja-Wor-ski! Ja-Wor-ski!”
Ginebra fans — those who witnessed the glory days and those who are raring to experience it — got a chance to fete one of the PBA’s most celebrated players in the jersey retirement ceremonies of the living legend Robert “Sonny” Jaworski.
Before a packed crowd, Jaworski’s number 7 jersey banner was raised at the General Admissions section of the Big Dome following a program that mostly reminisced his 23 seasons in the PBA.
Commissioner Chito Salud, along with some San Miguel Corporation executives, led the unveiling for the jersey banner after a montage of clips and photos were shown in the LED screen.
“No words can capture our love, our respect, our gratitude for you coach Sonny,” Salud said.
Jaworski, a vibrant character on-and-off the court, opened up with his speech to the delight of the audience, “Sinira nyo ang pagka-macho ko, pinaiyak niyo ako (You destroyed my macho image because you made me cry).”
Which he followed up with, “Kung ako dalaga, at kayo nanliligaw, kanina ko pa kayo ni-lips to lips (If I were a woman and you’re my suitors I would have locked lips with you earlier),” referring to the fans.
Jaworski, once a playing coach known for his tough demeanor on the court, also made a name for never relenting until the final buzzer, and that “Never Say Die” remains the battlecry of Ginebra — whichever generation.
It was a reunion of sorts of the most popular line-up for the Gin Kings, with players like Bal David, Marlou Aquino, Noli Locsin, Vince Hizon, Wilmer Ong and Pido Jarencio among others gracing the event of their former teammate-cum-coach.
The current Gin Kings line up, hoping to draw inspiration for their semifinals tiff against Petron which is being played at press time, also made an appearance headed by main man Mark Caguioa.
It was a touching moment for Jaworski, who offically retired his jersey number but left the hard court the age of 52 in 1998 with a whopping 13 championships across his name.
“My passion for the sports and love for the people will remain forever,” Jaworski finished in his speech.
While Ginebra will remain the crowd favorites — always have been and always will be, Jaworski is just happy that the interest for the PBA remains high, a decade and half after he left.
“I’m happy to see the love hasn’t faded, and the support for the PBA is there,” Jaworski, who admitted is not leaving the basketball scene, said in an interview.