FILIPINO-AMERICAN National Basketball Association (NBA) player Jordan Clarkson could have chosen to play for a big-market team after last season, but decided to stay with the Utah Jazz as he saw a fit with the Salt Lake City-based squad.
Had his first year with the Jazz during the coronavirus pandemic-hit 2019-20 season, Mr. Clarkson, 28, said that while his stay with Utah in his maiden season with the team was limited to just 42 games, it was enough for him to decide and re-sign for four years for $52 million.
Primary in his decision was the fit he saw for him with the organization and the city, which embraced him upon his arrival from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s just the relationships with everybody. The guys have been great and my relationship with coach (Quin Snyder). And overall, just the fit with the city has been great for me as well. I’m just comfortable. It brings me peace of mind,” said Mr. Clarkson in a Zoom session with US-based reporters, the file of which was shared to Philippine media by the NBA.
“Everybody here just have the same goal of winning together. It’s where it all came for me. I wanted to continue to grow here and do great things here in Utah. Definitely, I didn’t want to leave this group,” he added.
In his first year with the Jazz, Mr. Clarkson, who played for the Philippines in the Asian Games back in 2018, averaged 15.6 points on a solid 46.2% shooting from the field.
He was a key player in the rotation off the bench, providing instant offense and energy.
Mr. Clarkson shared that as a group they have grown a lot after playing in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, and that he values the relationships he has built with Utah All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
“I didn’t really know Don much before this, but we have grown together since. The bubble kind of brought us closer, just being together every day and Rudy, too. Our relationship has grown and we are tight and we communicate well. We have each other’s back. And if you have that kind of group, that’s a good formula for winning,” he said.
The Jazz made it to the playoffs last season in the NBA bubble as the sixth seed but missed out on the opportunity to fashion out an upset after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in the conference quarterfinals.
Mr. Clarkson said it was tough losing, but they are determined to bounce back and make another run at it.
He went on to say that he appreciates the value the Jazz have given him and vowed to continue improving and help the team win.
“I will continue to work on my shot distributions, make my iso (isolation) plays better, and hit my three point shots. Defensively, I will find my niche on that side and continue to win,” he said.
The Jazz will open their 2020-21 season on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 24 (Manila time). – Michael Angelo S. Murillo