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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Robert Jaworski



Jaworski is a wonderful study in sociology. I didn't hate Jaworski that much when he was with Toyota, I actually despised Fernandez more. Being an avowed Crispanatic, it was always Fernandez that made life difficult for Crispa. Sure, Jaworski got his licks in but the real pain in the behind was Don Ramon. For one, Abet Guidaben was a poor match against him, especially during the earlier years. Philip Cezar did well in defending him but then again, he's two inches shorter than Fernandez. And we all know how guile and cunning Don Ramon is when trying to maximize whatever advantage he may have over his opponent.

Jaworski is no saint, which makes many wonder why fans treat him like a demi-god. He wasn't the bastion of consistency - perhaps, the most appropriate Filipino player to get that tag would be Ricardo Brown. When I became a Jawo follower in 1986, I frequently lambasted Jawo's decision-making, particularly when he came into the game and whatever lead that Ginebra had would disappear in a matter of minutes. Para bang nananadya si Jawo - gusto palapitin yung laro at maging exciting. Paradoxically, when Ginebra is faced with an overwhelming deficit, expect no one else but Jawo to take over the game and lead the rally. It was like fate that made Jawo a hero or a heel. Nothing in between...

Jawo's not the ultimate role model as well. Yes, he cursed a lot, and yes, he played dirty. But what younger fans should know was that the Big J grew up when basketball was played by "real men." When "sahod," "pitik" and "balya" were normal fares and undercutting someone meant "you just need to be more careful."

Jawo's larger than life image is exactly the same reason why he's been the subject of such characteristics like "dirty," "unbecoming" or "unfair." I remember back in the 70's when Jawo won't probably make it to the Top 10 dirtiest players in the PBA - these slots were normally reserved for players like Johnny Revilla, Bong Dela Cruz, Romeo Frank, Oscar Rocha, Big Boy Reynoso, among others. And what Jawo may have done in the 80's and 90's wasn't a result of "getting dirty progressively" but more of a manifestation of how the game was played like before and how "the game has evolved to being more finesse than physical." In the 80's, while Jaworski was already regarded one of the dirtiest players in the league, he still paled in comparison with the likes of upstarts Rudy Distrito, Onchie Dela Cruz, and Vic Sanchez. That's where the thin line of being dirty and being "magulang" is being distinctly recognized.

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