Robert Jaworski, the epitome of Filipino machismo inside the hard court, couldn’t help but crack after the shower of love from his fans.
“Sinira niyo ang pagka-macho ko, naiyak ako,” said Philippine basketball’s Living Legend to start his speech, his eyes wet with tears and his voice breaking down.
He actually grew emotional when TV5 crooner Gerald Santos sang Frank Sinatra’s “Winner”, one of his favorite songs, as a tribute. Jaworski rose from his seat at the end of the number to give Santos a warm round of applause.
But Jaworski was able to regain his composure, showing off his trademark quick wit.
“Kung ako’y dalaga at kayo’y nanliligaw, kanina ko pa kayo ni-lips to lips,” said Jaworski as the mammoth crowd inside the SMART-Araneta Coliseum roared in laughter.
Apart from having his jersey retired, The Big J was feted by Ginebra, the team he coached and played for from 1985 to 1998, and the PBA, which he joined as a pioneer with Toyota in 1975.
Jaworski’s speech turned serious, noting lessons he learned from the sport.
“I believe it is the duty of those who lead to nurture excellence, integrity, and honesty among others,” said Jaworksi.
“Alam niyo, yang word na honesty, malamang sa basketball nagsimula yan dahil kapag naglalaro tayo ng one-on-one, two-on two or three-on-three sa mga barangay, hindi naman laging may referee. Hindi ba naglalaro tayo ng honesty?”
Renowned for inspiring underdog teams against stronger ball clubs, Jaworski encouraged people to do things in their best of their abilities.
“Defeat or failure must be made temporary,” said Jaworski.