Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson sees his future in purple and gold
By Cliff Barry and Cristina DC Pastor
Making your way into any professional sports league is very tough. Making your way into a professional sports league as a minority is something that is even tougher.
According to a study done by the director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, Dr. Richard Lapchick, in 2015 only 2 percent of the National Basketball Association was not African American — or white. Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers straddles the demographics. He is part-African American from his father Mike Clarkson and part-Asian from his FilAm mother Annette Tullao Davis. His bio identifies his maternal grandmother as Marcelina Tullao from Bacolor, Pampanga.
Sports blogs are reporting that his parents divorced when he was young. Jordan has a stepmother, Janie Clarkson.
As an African American, he has the natural predisposition to basketball because of his height and agility; as Filipino, he boasts speed and can be imaginative with scoring.
“I was fast and can jump and develop a shot,” he said at a February 5 press conference with the FilAm media where he described his skills and strength. “My dad was mad at me because I don’t want to play no other sports; I just want to play basketball.”
He is only the second player with Asian American roots in the league after Jeremy Lin. Lin played one season for the Lakers in 2012 to 2013.
After being drafted by the Washington Wizards in the second round, Clarkson was traded to the Lakers on draft night where he has spent the rest of his career since then.
After playing high school basketball in Karen Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas, Clarkson started his career early by signing a letter of intent to play at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Although Clarkson spent two successful years at Tulsa where he was made an All-Conference USA first team, he later transferred to the University of Missouri where he spent his final year of college.
Entering the 2014 NBA Draft, Clarkson was scouted as being solid point guard/shooting guard hybrid with a rather average shooting ability being his primary downside. At 6’5”inches tall with a 6’8” wingspan, Clarkson’s reach, and height allowed him to be a versatile defender capable of switching between guards and small forwards. Clarkson’s combination of solid defensive talent along with high offensive potential had some experts projecting him going late in the first round or early in the second round with the thirty-first pick.
After joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2014 Summer League, Clarkson spent much of his first season playing for the Lakers D-League affiliate and limited minutes for the team as he averaged 12 points and three and a half assists in 25 minutes during his rookie season. Clarkson’s excellent performance in his first season earned him an appearance to the NBA All-Rookie first team despite starting only 38 games.
After his excellent performance in his freshman season, Clarkson re-signed with the Lakers in a four-year $50 million deal that solidified his future with the team.
“My dad, and my college coach Tim Fuller…those two dudes really put that dream in front of me, through college, through high school,”
Coming off the bench in the 2016-17 season for a very young Lakers team that has faced a lot of adversity over the course of the season, Clarkson’s averages this season have slightly dipped due to a significant 5-minute decrease in average minutes played. Although his Los Angeles Lakers are near the bottom of the standings in the Western Conference, in a recent interview with NBA.com writer David Aldridge, Clarkson started that despite the lack of success, the season was a great learning experience for everyone on the team.
Connection with the Philippines
Clarkson has been proud of his roots. Clarkson has spent much of his career giving back to his hometown like when he set up a Basketball Clinic in Manila, for hundreds of kids along with NBA legend Horace Grant and Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke. Later in a Tweet, Clarkson described the event “as one of the best experiences of his life” and thanked the NBA for setting it up. Overall, when looking at Jordan Clarkson’s connection with his native Filipino heritage, actions speak louder than words as Clarkson has done a numerous amount of community service and work for the country.
Cliff Barry hails from New York City where he is a marketing associate by day and blogger by night. He is an absolute sports and music fanatic who tries to marry them in his writing. You can reach out to him at Cliff@usssportsmachine.com.