Jordan Clarkson has told this story before. Amidst catastrophic flooding that occurred in the Philippines, the Utah Jazz guard had seen a photo of young children playing basketball on a hoop that had, somehow, survived the natural disaster. The photo touched him, painting a larger portrait of just how universal and impactful the game truly is. 

“After one of the natural disasters they had over there, I saw a picture where it’s flooded and kids are still playing basketball with the hoop still standing,” he said to “Just showing love for the game over there and how pivotal basketball is, how far it stretches. It’s crazy then just seeing the support I have from the Philippines.”

Clarkson, whose mother is of Filipino descent, recently told the Philippines media that it was important to him to represent the country at this year’s All-Star event in Salt Lake City. “I know in the West they’ve got a lot of talented guards,” he said to ESPN. “But I feel like I can represent Utah, the Philippines at the All-Star Game, if it happens. It would be exciting if that happens.”

Whether he’s selected or not, Clarkson has been having quite the year so far, from putting up career-high numbers—21.1 points and 4.3 assists—to embracing his role as an experienced guard. Having played with and learned from the likes of King James, the Black Mamba and Lou Williams, JC knows firsthand what stepping up as a leader looks like, too, telling “Being around Kobe and Bron, there’s been [lots] of vets I’ve been around in the NBA, you know. Lou Williams, guys like that. It’s kinda pushing me to a leadership role in my ninth year in the League. Just seeing how they handled it and kinda doing the same.” 

After getting traded to the Jazz from Cleveland, Clarkson has found all the support he needs to thrive. “The trade was definitely a lot to take in. I didn’t know what to expect,” Clarkson told The Athletic back in 2021. “But when I got here, the team, the coaching staff, the city and the fans, they welcomed me with open arms. The Jazz showed they invested with me and made me feel comfortable. I feel free here.” 

It’s that freedom that has allowed Clarkson to remain true to himself. As head coach Will Hardy recently emphasized to Andscape, Clarkson is “a very creative player, and he sees the game in a unique way sometimes. And I have to give him the latitude to be himself out there because when he plays freely, he plays with his instincts, he’s at his best. He’s a guy that I definitely don’t want to put in too narrow of a lane because of his ability to impact the game in a lot of ways. Off the court, he is as fun-loving and easy going, engaging a person as I’ve been around in the NBA.”

Clarkson is undeniably one of the most unique and stylish players in the League, from his painted nails and his appearances at Paris Fashion Week to his eternal presence on @LeagueFits. Regardless of what other people might think, Clarkson has always remained true to himself. “Everybody around the League knows who I am and respects it,” he told Marc J. Spears.

What many have also come to respect is Clarkson’s commitment to the grind. The 46th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has come a long way from playing on the then-Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League his rookie year. And he was just coming off the bench a year ago. He’s now a solidified starter, second on the team in scoring, and, as Hardy pointed out after the Jazz’s win against the Cavaliers, can make “some big plays.”

Even when Donovan Mitchell made his well-awaited return to the Beehive State on January 10, it was Clarkson who stole the show. But anyone who saw his tunnel fit that night already knew what type of time he was on. Clarkson pulled up wearing a black graphic tee from his brand, Shop Sixx, that has a printed skull in the middle and icy blue lettering spelling out his name. 

Many fans will recognize Clarkson’s sartorial side; he once told @LeagueFits, “When I take a night off from dressing, I think I go 0-20 and it ain’t a good look.” Well, that night against Spida and the Cavaliers, he went 11-19 from the field and erupted for 32 points in the win. 

Clearly, Clarkson isn’t taking any time off soon.

And as the Jazz look to continue their climb up the NBA standings—as we go to press, they’re
No. 8 in the West—they’ll look to Clarkson for his leadership, energy and the unwavering passion he brings to everything he does on and off the court. 

“His ability to kind of reform himself, reshape himself around that idea is leadership in itself,” said teammate Mike Conley, according to “And he’s been awesome.”  

He’s also got a dedicated fan base rooting for him, one that extends 7,400+ miles from Utah to the Philippines. Clarkson has said he plans on suiting up for the Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup next summer, too. 

But until then, he has business to handle at home. 

Photos via Getty Images

The post Jordan Clarkson Has Brought His Game, and Tunnel Fits, to Another Level in Utah appeared first on SLAM.