Jordan Clarkson’s NBA identity morphed from Los Angeles Lakers building block into burdensome salary-cap figure this past summer. Team president Magic Johnson began shedding cap space as early as June in preparation for the 2018 LeBron James free-agency sweepstakes, so naturally Clarkson’s four-year, $50 million contract found itself at the center of numerous trade rumors during the offseason.
Clarkson started for his entire sophomore campaign in 2015-16, but Lakers coach Luke Walton benched him in favor of uninspiring Nick Young and, now, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Yet, the fourth-year combo guard is enjoying his best season to date, averaging career highs of 25.3 points and 58.5 percent true shooting per 36 minutes off the bench. So, where has he found the inspiration?
“I mean my pops, my family, that’s always No. 1,” Clarkson told the Los Angeles . “But second probably the girls and stuff. Females. Know what I mean? I love women.”
He chuckled mischievously as he added: “They don’t like you when you’re down.”
Well played, Clarkson, especially if you’re still trying to win Magic Johnson over. I’ve heard of “God, family, country,” but “family, women, Lakers” is a swell slogan. If only the Lakers still “entertained” women in the sauna between the final buzzer and postgame interviews like they did in the 1980s.
And while the Lakers have had their share of struggles during his four-year NBA tenure in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, Clarkson has apparently never let himself get too down, having been linked last year to Kardashian clan member Kendall Jenner in a reportedly open and “casual” relationship.
The man who called an Italian fashion modeling shoot the highlight of his summer has also been spotted on a “Lamborghini date” with Stephen Baldwin spawn slash model Hailey Baldwin in January and “a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain” with “Boo! A Madea Halloween” actress Bella Thorne.
Now, Clarkson comparing the post-Kobe Bryant Lakers to an ex-girlfriend makes all the more sense:
“We’ve kind of moved on,” he told USA Today. “It’s almost like breaking up with your girlfriend. It’s kind of weird without them around and stuff. But it’s just us. We’re in our own space now. We’re creating something new.”
That something new evolved into a Sixth Man of the Year challenge from Magic over the summer, and Clarkson has responded with the NBA’s fourth-best scoring average off the bench. Yup, things are looking up for the 25-year-old former second-round pick, and the ladies of L.A. best recognize.
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