Danny Ildefonso no longer has the spring in his legs to go for a rim-rattling dunk.
You don’t see him do his signature spin move anymore when going for a shot.
‘Father time’ has obviously slowed down the ‘Demolition Man’.
But every time he steps on the court for a brief moment to spell Reynel Hugnatan or an import the last two seasons, Ildefonso manages to stand his ground on defense and can still occasionally pop those medium-range jumpers.
The veteran Meralco forward can still make heady decision that usually leads to a basket for his teammate.
Ildefonso has won eight PBA titles during his glory days as a San Miguel Beer star.
He also bagged two MVP trophies five Best Player awards and three Finals MVPs.
But personally, the best part of his PBA career and what I should say, his legacy in the sport millions of Filipinos love, doesn’t come from his individual stats and basketball accomplishments.
Instead, his legacy can be best summed up in one person – June Mar Fajardo.
Fajardo, San Miguel’s new star center, admitted his career wouldn’t have flourished if not for Ildefonso’s painstaking effort to take him on his wings during his rookie year.
Their time together in practice gave Fajardo a chance to learn the big man’s move from Ildefonso, who, during his prime, outwitted bigger, bulkier opponents with his footwork.
No wonder, Fajardo said part of Ildefonso’s regular lecture includes a reminder to practice the fundamentals of the game.
More importantly, the 25-year-old San Miguel big man said Ildefonso taught him a valuable lesson on how he should treat his now-flourishing PBA career.
Said Fajardo: “Ang basketball hindi pang matagalan. Lagi niya (Ildefonso) iyan sinasabi sa akin. Kailangan before mag-end yung career mo, may investments ka na. Hindi yung naglalaro ka kasi kailangan mong kumita.”
Ildefonso may be close to retiring, but he knew very well that basketball won’t be forever.
No wonder, he is selfless enough to impart his wealth of experience to someone he could pay it forward to the future ‘rookies’ or students, whom he could have up close and personal relationship with.