The Jaworski Files:
1. Slit The Throat Gesture - In the 1997 season, San Miguel Beer's Allan Caidic got waylaid in a battle for the loose ball and fell accidentally with his head hitting the floor first. The coliseum fell into a hushed silence after seeing Caidic almost unconscious and not moving. Thereafter, Caidic threw up on the hardfloor brought about by the loud thud he experienced. Minutes passed - no one was moving or taking action as no one seemed to know what to do. Jaworski rose from his bench and made a "slit the throat" gesture, asking "bakit, patay na ba yan?" Critics were quick to lambast the Big J for this insensitive gesture but it was later clarified that Jaworski was criticizing league officials for their inaction and inability to attend to Caidic's health. The Big J later visited Caidic in his hospital bed moments after the game...
2. Abet Guidaben - one of the Big J's most heated yet amusing rivals. There have been several occasions when the two have figured in a tussle, nothing really extreme though. One time, Jaworski and Guidaben found themselves staring at each other face to face after one incident between the two. Another scenario is Jaworski's penchant to put his benchwarming centers against Guidaben to get his goat. Players like Ed Ducut, Wilmer Ong, Rolly Buhay, and Romy Mamaril were all assigned to Guidaben as Jaworski's form of insult or lack of respect to Guidaben. Another scenario is when the Big J fell down from a Guidaben knee. Goaded by Guidaben for being "old," Jaworski, prior to standing up, decided to take a couple of push-ups to prove otherwise. When Guidaben found himself without a team, he tried out for the Big J but unfortunately got the thumbs down in the mid 90's. While these two may have no love lost for each other, a lot of the histrionics can be attributed to the mutual, yet unadmitted respect for each other...
3. Jaworski beating up Obias - In a MICAA game back in the early 70's while donning the Meralco Reddywatts jersey, Jaworski was involved in a fiasco that saw him punching referee Joe Obias while teammate Alberto "Big Boy" Reynoso was ganging up on the other referee, Ting Cruz (both zebras eventually became pioneer refs of the PBA). It happened when Crispa was ahead of Meralco 65-50 in the 2nd half, a call that infuriated Reynoso made him pounce on Cruz. Obias, who was coming in to pacify, got the receiving end of a blow courtesy of the Big J's fist, and everything fell into bedlam. The two players were meted out lifetime suspensions by the BAP only to be reinstated by a presidential pardon from Marcos.
4. Jaworski vs. Fernandez - the ultimate rivalry that defined the PBA from 1984 to 1989. It was one of the biggest reasons why fans loved the league - the two biggest superstars were running a personal feud and genuinely disliked each other brought about by the Toyota disbandment. Every game between Jawo's Ginebra team against Fernandez's Manila Beer / Tanduay / San Miguel / Purefoods was always a treat to watch. In one game, Fernandez gave Jaworski a mocking smile, making the Big J retaliate by spitting on him (it actually hit his shoulders than the face). In one awards ceremonies held at the ULTRA, the two were recipients of citations and in typical showbiz fashion, the PBA decided to make the two stand together side by side. The two never shook hands, with Jaworski making a mockery out of the scene by making gestures that the crowd lapped up to.
5. The Jaworski-Fernandez healing - In the 1989 All Star game, Veterans coach Baby Dalupan decided to play the Big J and Fernandez together which made fans anticipate every single move. In the last 4 seconds of the game, with the score tied at 130, Jaworski made an inbound pass to Fernandez who scored off an elegant shot against the outstretched arms of Rookie/Sophomore center Benjie Paras. In the midst of the celebration, Dalupan went to both Fernandez and Jaworski and made them shake hands - a highlight film that would cap off what was an incredible PBA decade (perhaps the best ever in history). The reconciliation proved to be legitimate as Jaworski, the year after, decided to include Fernandez in the 1990 national team headed for the Beijing Asian Games. Fernandez actually assisted Jaworski in the bench, a familiar role the two essayed when they were still good friends at Toyota. And in the 2003 Reunion game between Toyota and Crispa, Fernandez made his payback by making a pass to Robert Jaworski after drawing a double team, with Jaworski hitting a critical trey (his only FG attempt in the game) that spelled victory for Toyota.
6. Assistant coaches - Jaworski had Rino Salazar (the two are related as the Big J's middle name is Salazar) as his assistant from 1985 to 1991. At the start of the 1992 season, Salazar left Ginebra to handle the coaching reins for Shell, a team that Jaworski figured in a major rivalry at that time. Feeling betrayed by Shell's offer and Salazar's acceptance, the Big J hired Salazar's predecessor Arlene Rodriguez to be his assistant. The tandem turned out short-lived as Rodriguez was eventually dropped when Salazar was taken in once more by the Big after the former Toyota guard was dropped by Shell. Salazar eventually took over as head coach of Ginebra when the Big J took a leave of absence from the league and eventually resigned from the Ginebra camp after running and winning a Senate seat.
7. Fort Acuña's termination and eventual death - In Game 3 of the 1980 AFC best of five finals tween Toyota and Crispa with the latter ahead 2-0, Coach Acuña surprised everyone by benching the Big J in the entire first half of the game. Toyota team manager Pablo Carlos asked Acuña why the Big J wasn't fielded, and Acuña ignored his question. Right there and then, Carlos got miffed, fired Acuña during the halftime. and installed himself as temporary coach. He immediately fielded Jaworski at the start of the 2nd half and the emotional bearing of the move was significant as it stopped Crispa's history-making attempt of winning an entire conference undefeated at 20-0. Toyota won Game 3, 97-94, and forced a Game 4. The Redmanizers eventually won the title and ended up with a 20-1 card for the entire AFC. Meantime, none was heard from Acuña despite media's attempt to get his side. The year after, in 1981, a few weeks after Toyota's 1981 Open Conference conquest of Crispa, he committed suicide by drinking a can of Baygon insecticide that frothed in his mouth and eventually causing his death. No suicide note was found but pundits opined that it may have been caused by depression brought about by his embarrassing termination and his falling out with the Big J. To date, no one has yet to confirm what went on Acuña's mind why he benched the Big J, who was Toyota's most consistent performer in the first 2 games of the 1980 AFC Finals.
I'll stop here for awhile at 7 - symbolic as this is the Big J's jersey number for over 4 decades. More to come!