A Jaworski in the NBA?

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

I definitely did my research, like, watch a bunch of videos of them obviously he could play so pretty, pretty cool. Small world that the greatest Filipino player has the same name as me. – Justin Jaworski

That question causes Filipino basketball fans to sit up and take notice. Jaworski is a somewhat common American surname of Polish extraction. There have been several great migrations of Europeans to the United States, usually accompanying the outbreak of world wars and other conflicts in Europe. Generally, they settled in the East Coast, since New York is the point of disembarkation from Europe. There, many of them continued the trades they had in their home countries, and became lawyers, doctors, bankers, grocers and bakers and so on. They gradually spread out to nearby states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is also the unique surname of the most beloved basketball player in the Philippines. The most famous Jaworski outside of the country is retired NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski (namesake of the Big J’s son), who, curiously, also wore number 7.

In an online interview with broadcast journalist Anthony Taberna this week, 22-year-old Philadelphia native Justin Jaworski revealed that, as of a week ago, he is a step away from his NBA dream.

“I will be with the Thunder organization, probably play for the G League team for a little bit, and then hopefully I can get called up,” says the 6-foot-3 guard, who discovered his famous namesake from Filipino fans just last year. “Maybe another team picks me up, you never know. But it’s a good start for my career, obviously not where I want to finish, but it’s a good spot to be.”

Jaworski enjoyed watching former Sixers guard Allen Iverson, and idolizes current NBA stars Steph Curry and JJ Reddick. He grew up a two-sport player, before settling on hoops. Similarly, Ron Jaworski is also from Philadelphia.

“I’ve been playing my entire life. I played football as well all the way up through high school, so I really didn’t know which one I wanted to play,” Jaworski admitted. “I knew I loved basketball, but a lot of people thought I was better at American football. But I just loved putting work into basketball. I love the process, getting in the gym on my own. So it really made my decision kind of clear cut to take basketball.”

Last year at the NBA Summer League, Justin was approached by several Filipino fans who told him the legend of Robert Jaworski Sr. He was also inundated with online comments about his skills, and told about the Living Legend. He did some research, and was amazed at what he found. Both Justin and Dodot Jaworski said that they wouldn’t be surprised if they were related somewhere down the line. The elder Jaworski’s father was Polish-American, while Justin’s grandfather was pure Polish.

“I appreciate the support. I mean, I hope, I hope I can make the Philippines proud as a country,” Justin said. “I definitely appreciate their support and hopefully I can perform well for them so they take some pride in the Jaworski name some more.”

Who knows? Justin Jaworski may be embraced as an adopted son by nostalgic Filipino basketball fans who wish to relive the golden years of Philippine basketball.

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