Jaworski mania hits once more, iconic jersey retired

MANILA, Philippines - For an hour, it was Jaworski mania all over again.

Philippine Basketball Association legend and former Senator Robert Jaworski was feted in a stirring jersey retirement ceremony before around 15,000 screaming and shrieking fans Sunday night, July 8.

The six-foot-one guard finally had his iconic #7 jersey retired and hanged to the rafters of the equally-historic Smart Araneta Coliseum 14 years after his last stint with Ginebra in 1998.

Charismatic champion

Even with a lot of time away from the eyes of fans, Jaworski, who started his career as the star of the dominant University of the East in the UAAP almost 50 years ago, still maintained his charisma, leaving thousands of fans enamored once more with his charm and wit.

This was evident as when a male fan shouted "I love you" while he was taking the stage, Jaworski fired back with his own "I love you, too."

Moments after, the ex-lawmaker said in jest, "Kung ako ay dalaga at kayo ang akin manliligaw, kanina ko pa kayo ni-lips-to-lips."

The Big Dome crowd erupted in laughter every time Jaworski unleashed his "pickup lines," reminiscent of the 70s, 80s and 90s crowds that cheered their hearts out every time "The Big J" stepped on the court.

Success on, off court

In his speech, Jaworski thanked everyone who made his career on and off the hardwood a success.

As a matter of fact, he even named a lot of them, with school officials from his UE days, to key people in the founding of the PBA, to former teammates, to media practitioners and even to diehard fans who never failed to support him.

"Without you, I would not be here," he said.

Possible Senate run?

Buzz abounded inside the arena that Jaworski would be making a run at a Senate seat anew, rumors that he himself shrugged off.

"There was no politics on what the PBA did today," he shared.

Asked whether he was preparing for a comeback for basketball or politics, Jaworski left the discussion hanging.

"It's an open field for me right now," he said. "Yung basketball, di mawawala 'yan."

Nevertheless, Jaworski did make some overtures during his speech that he wants to be of help to the people who aided in his rise to being one of the country's most popular figures.

Back to the glory days

Fans might never see Jaworski don a basketball jersey again, but for one night, everything flashed back to the glory days.

The teammates, the former players, an ex-coach and basketball and corporate luminaries made for the perfect background. But what made the event extra special was the fans, who, once more, reminded everyone why Ginebra and Jaworski are still the most popular in their fields until today.

See photos of the event here. - Rappler.com