Friday, May 4, 2012

Sorry PJ Simon. Nice shoes. by Nikko Ramos

By Nikko Ramos (@NikkoRMS)

People say you are what you wear. In the PBA, there seems to be no rule for what players can and can’t wear to a game.

I’ve seen Powerade’s Rudy Lingganay walk into Araneta with a backpack to go with jeans and a graphic tee, looking every bit like a college sophomore on his way home from study group. I’ve also seen baller-celebs like Barako’s Don Allado enter the locker room in crisp, expensive-looking jeans and tailored button-down shirts.

And then, there’s B-MEG supersub PJ Simon. Yup, 91 words before I introduce the star of my article. But that’s the PJ Simon storyline, isn’t it?

It was game three of these Commissioner’s Cup semifinals when I saw Peter June Simon enter the arena. He walked straight into the B-Meg dugout. I could have sworn he just got off a yacht. While many players flash their offcourt Jordans, PJ went for boat shoes. Up top, he had a light blue, long sleeved shirt, with top two buttons opened and sleeves rolled to achieve that “rolled, not folded ‘cos I’m cool like that” look. He wore khaki shorts that finished above the knee. To finish the yachtsman look, he had a fancy-schmancy non-athletic duffel bag in hand.

PJ looked like John F. Kennedy on a sailing trip with the fam at Cape Cod. Or maybe he looked like the stereotypical rich-dude bad-guy on your favorite teleserye. JC Intal was wearing something similar. But JC’s height and build would still scream “athlete” even if he borrowed Bianca Gonzalez’s gowns for kicks. But not PJ.

You are what you wear. Is it true? If it is, PJ Simon dresses like a rich kid born into fortune, like a bachelor who takes his yacht out to sea with his arm around a new supermodel every week. So maybe we’re not what we wear. Perhaps he watched a Gossip Girl summer episode, saw Chuck Bass in a long sleeved shirt, khaki shorts and deck shoes and thought, “Ayos yun ah.”

For basketball players, they are how they arrive. Some get there early enough to show off the new pair of sponsored sunglasses they’ve been tweeting for days. Some intentionally enter another gate to meet adoring fans. Simon, on the other hand, greets no one, and goes straight to the locker room. The only reason he stops? It’s not to sign autographs or death-stare opponents. It’s because some young misguided courtside reporter who saw a similar preppy outfit earlier confuses him with JC Intal (Sorry PJ).

Even in boat shoes, a long sleeved shirt and khaki shorts,I mistook PJ for someone else. That’s my bad. That’s his story.

PJ is never the most intimidating presence. He never scares off opponents with his appearance. He doesn’t strut like a star. He has had to count on sneakiness to be effective. Often overlooked. Often underestimated.

The spotlight is often on megastars like James Yap. PJ? The guy I was surprised to see in Cape Cod boat shoes. The guy I inexcusably mixed up with someone else. You don’t talk about PJ until he takes and makes that dagger three to end a team’s season.

Don’t be misled by the Chuck Bass/JFK vibe.

I believe PJ is a simple guy.

I believe his game isn’t so simple to stop.

But -- if PJ Simon really owns a yacht, then forget everything I just said. NR

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