June Mar Fajardo: For Love of the Fans

If there’s a glass display case out there, for size 17s, for a pair of Jordans that in time will have a hype value of a used car, then Jave Ilao and his younger brother Vincent desperately need it.

Jave and Vincent are both long-time fans of June Mar Fajardo, who on most nights walk tall as the PBA’s five-time MVP. On Friday night, he sat on a throne in Titan Fort to unveil a historic SLAM cover with his half body on it, to unleash rare Kraken-inspired merch, to share a part of himself to those deserving.

Jave and Vincent are two of those. Jave’s name was picked to bring home a June Mar-signed Jordan 11 Concords from June Mar’s personal stash. Vincent got a signed Jordan 3 Black Cement, also plucked from June Mar’s closet. Their problem now is figuring out where and how to preserve their size 17 blessings in mint condition.

Naghahanap na ako ng glass case na size 17,” said Jave, who had to rush to the one-time event from a nearby hospital for a chance to see June Mar up close. He arrived at 3 p.m. Hours early. But not earlier than Carl de Dios, another long-time June Mar fan, who camped out outside the store as early as 2 p.m. on a dry, sunny Friday.

Another fan, Anthony Fementira, blocked out his whole day for the golden chance to see June Mar in a different setting, one where he’s not in Kraken mode but in bai mode.

Napapanood ko lang kasi siya sa court, gusto ko naman siya makita sa personal,” he said, while waiting in line for June Mar’s appearance. There were many waiting in line. Ask them about their fandom and their replies are unanimous.

How big of a fan are you?

“Sobrang fan.”

Since when?

“Dati pa.”

Why?

Siya kasi ‘yung nagi-inspire sa ‘kin mag-basketball,” said Carl.

Pinaka-malakas na center ‘yun eh,” said Vincent.

Kasi napaka-humble niya na player,” said Jave.

They all craved for the June Mar vibe, the greatness, the unmistakable groundedness, and at times, the genuine awkwardness. In solo press launch settings, June Mar can squirm in his seat like a fish out of water. Throw him into a room full of strangers and he gets shy. But when he meets everyone one by one, he gets warm. Like really warm. Like a bro who wants to hang out with you warm.

June Mar’s realness is the energy that fills any room he’s in. His Q&A with reporters is intimate. His meet-and-greet with fans is soulful. June Mar—based on all his awards—is worthy of GOAT status, liable to go Michael. Take your pick: Tyson. Jackson. Jordan. June Mar. Five-time.

But instead, he keeps it toned down, every single time. Which is why June Mar on the cover of SLAM’s special 25th anniversary issue is a gift. He’s the perfect counterpart to LeBron James—the cover star of SLAM’s US version, the biggest star in basketball, another name in the GOAT conversation.

On the court, they both dominate. Their teams go where they go. But outside of it, They’re yin and yang. While LeBron zigs into controlling the basketball narrative, June Mar quietly zags into being genuinely happy to be here.

Hindi ko talaga ine-expect ‘to,” said June Mar, who now owns rights to the first ever solo SLAM Philippines cover and a Titan Kraken shirt. But still without the bragging. Forever grateful. Smiling in selfies. Signing autographs. Hanging around. This is why fans like Jave wait in the heat, stay, stare, gush, listen, and admire.

Napakatahimik na tao, medyo ‘di ko nga naririnig ‘yung sinasabi niya nung nagsasalita siya eh. Pero nung nagsasalita siya, nakikita ko kung gaano siya ka-humble as a person and as a player,” said Jave.

Sana marami pa siyang MVPs na makuha at sana marami pa siyang mga fans na tulad ko na mapasaya niya.”

Aside from the search of a huge display case, Jave and Vincent are also in pursuit of PBA tickets, go up to June Mar, and then let him sign their pairs again.

What if nag-BPC pa siya or nag-champion ulit sila? Para lalong maging memorable ‘yung shoes,” Jave said.

These are things June Mar fans now worry about. Five-time MVP world problems. If you appreciate greatness on and off the court, you, too, are rewarded. You never know what to expect next from June Mar. Another game-changing stretch for Gilas Pilipinas? A Grand Slam for San Miguel? An insane six-time MVP run? A pair of Jordans from his collection? You just wait. When waiting on the greats, it’s always worth it.

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