THE COVID-19 pandemic has caused further delay in the planned special ceremony for a very notable player.
Magnolia’s representative to the PBA Board, Rene Pardo, yesterday said PJ Simon’s jersey (No. 8) would be retired once the virus threat has eased and the PBA could go about its usual ways.
“I-re-retire namin jersey niya pag normal season na,” Pardo said in a text message.
“Mahirap gawin sa bubble.”
The long-time PBA governor was referring to the semi-quarantine concept the league is set to hold in Pampanga next month to salvage the Philippine Cup.
The Hotshots, minus Simon, are among the 12 teams to be housed at the Clark Freeport and Economic Zone and play games at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
The prolonged delay adds to the grief Simon is feeling right now following the demise of his father a few days back.
What should help lighten up Simon’s spirits is the prospects of the ceremony finally being held.
Simon’s jersey will be the fourth to be retired in the former Purefoods franchise’s history after those of four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, and Rey Evangelista.
Like Simon, Evangelista and Patrimonio, now team manager of Magnolia, played their entire PBA career with the franchise.
The 40-year-old native of Makilala, Cotabato signed a one-conference deal with the Hotshots just before the season started, giving management the time to make the arrangements for his retirement ceremony.
But the COVID outbreak forced the PBA to go on lockdown since March 11, stalling the ceremony that should have taken place last May 10.
Simon’s contract expired last Aug. 31, making him a free agent.
Teams have until today to sign any of the current free agents in time for the submission deadline of the 15-man lineup and optional reserve for each ballclub heading into the bubble.
Magnolia still holds the rights to Simon and has no plan of giving that up.
Dubbed “Super Sub,” Simon won eight championships with the franchise and was a vital cog in the team that clinched the coveted grand slam in 2014.
Simon is an eight-time All Star, a former All-Star MVP, a one-time Mythical Second Team member, a two-time Mr. Quality Minutes awardee of the PBA Press Corps., and the reigning Three-Point Shootout champion of the All-Stars.