Clarkson Proud to Represent the Philippines

Jordan Clarkson sums up the pride he has in his Filipino roots with one image.

“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. “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.”

Despite being drafted just nine months ago, Clarkson already has plenty of that support. Born to a Filipino mother, Annette Davis, Clarkson is grateful for the people that his heritage has brought him close to, whether it’s through social media or in person.

“In Detroit, there was a big group that came to watch us play against Detroit,” he said. “They had a Filipino Heritage Night. I got to speak with them, take pictures, all that stuff. It’s crazy. I didn’t know it was going to be that much support from a fan base like that. But I’ve been learning about how basketball culture is over there. It’s great.”

Other than Nate Robinson — who is one-eighth Filipino — Clarkson is the first NBA player to represent the islands since Raymond Townsend played his last game in 1982.

Historically filled with Lakers fans, the Philippines’ love for the team continues to grow now that a Filipino-American is the starting point guard.

“They follow the Lakers,” Clarkson said. “Everybody’s a big Kobe fan over there. So it’s cool to be second to Kobe for them out there. It’s just one of those things: I’m blessed to have those people.”

Clarkson’s fellow point guard, Jeremy Lin, can relate to the rookie. As the first Chinese- and Taiwanese-American in NBA history, Lin knows the value of having an international fan base like Clarkson.

“I’m thankful that the fans care that much and they care about me,” Lin said. “I truly know that whatever team I go to, they’ll support me. It’s a great feeling to have. Not everyone gets to have that unique platform.”

For his part, Clarkson is making the most of his platform. Though he is ineligible to play for the Philippines national team due to a FIBA rule that mandates players acquire dual citizenship before they turn 16, Clarkson is looking to secure an exemption so he could play for Gilas Pilipinas.

“It definitely would mean a lot,” he said. “It’s just one of those things you want to do, like how I want to make my city proud and make that country proud as well.”

The 22-year-old also wants to make his first trip to the Philippines this summer. He hasn’t yet worked out the details for his visit, but Clarkson looks forward to seeing his mother’s home country.

“I haven’t been there yet,” Clarkson said. “But I’ve heard it’s a great place to go and experience everything — especially to see the basketball culture. I’ve heard they have outside courts that are nicer than some of the indoor courts and stuff like that. It’s going to be a blessing to go over there.”

While Clarkson is proud to be the lone Filipino in the NBA, he wants to see more join him soon. He hopes his journey to the league can serve as a path for the generation behind him.

“I feel like I was a kid over there watching somebody else that made it, it would give hope,” Clarkson said. “I’d want to do the same thing and continue to work hard and continue to put effort into basketball. I know some kids out here in L.A. like (Cathedral High’s) Kobe Paras that are doing well, and hopefully they’ll be on this level soon.”