MANILA, Philippines -- No one will be able to wear the number 7 jersey for Ginebra ever again.
Come Sunday, July 8, basketball legend Robert Jaworksi Sr. will be honored with a jersey retirement ceremony as tribute for his role as Ginebra San Miguel's most popular endorser and basketball player.
"The retirement ceremony of Jaworksi's number 7 San Miguel jersey is our way of thanking the Big J for his invaluable contribution to Ginebra San Miguel the brand and company, to his contribution to Philippine basketball, and to his contibution to Filipino pop culture in general," said Ginebra San Miguel President Bernard Marquez.
The highly decorated player accepted the honor gratefully, but admitted he could not believe the time had come to retire his jersey.
"We're just retiring my jersey. That's very important. I guess so much flame of competitiveness burn in me," he said. "Thinking about the retirement has never come to my mind because so many things have gone so fast... I treasure these moments in the PBA."
Jaworski joins other PBA stars who have also retired their jerseys like Jerry Codiñera (44) and Alvin Patrimonio (16) of B-Meg Llamados, Shell Turbo Chargers' Benjie Paras (14), and Alaska Aces' Johnny Abarientos (14) and Jojo Lastimosa (6) to name a few.
A team retires jersey numbers to honor significant players. Traditionally, a retired jersey number can no longer be used by future players although a new player may ask permission from the owner of the number if they wish to use it.
One of the PBA's 25 greatest players of all time, Jaworski led Ginebra to four championships between 1986 and 1997, and remains one of the sport's biggest inspirations to former and current basketball players alike.
The 66-year-old Baguio native also emphasized that it is only his jersey that will be retiring and not him, joking he may just return to the court.
"May plano pa sana ako ng 2016 eh (I had plans for 2016)," Jaworski said, alluding to the Rio Olympics. "Pero kung mga exhibition, charity work, baka magamit pa yan! O baka lagyan natin ng 7 1/2 (But if there's an exhibition game or charity work, the jersey might still be used! Or maybe we can use 7 1/2)."
Message for Olympians
During the announcement of his jersey retirement, Jaworski took the opportunity to promote Philippine sports, highlighting the need to develop sports in the country and the necessity to support national athletes in their endeavors.
He emphasized the importance of "pursuing an avenue that makes [the Philippines] harvest more heroes," who could serve as inspiration for the youth and Filipinos to dream big and to better themselves.
Sports, he said, was the key to building the nation.
"Can you imagine if we had another 500 heroes that we could emulate?," he said. "Today, look at the impact of [Manny] Pacquiao in our society. His unifying power."
Jaworksi also shared his message to the Filipino athletes heading to the London Olympics, acknowledging that while the government may have had its shortcomings towards them, it should not be a hindrance for them to do their best.
"Understand that you are there as a Filipino, you gotta believe in yourself and do it, and do the best representation given the situation that you're at," he said. "I want you to go out there with a positive attitude, understanding that I'm gonna give it all my best, understanding that whatever I do is a representation of where I come from." - Rappler.com