Jordan Clarkson is rooting for his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Nick Young as he powers the Strong Group Realty in the 32nd Dubai International Championship.
In an online press briefing, the Filipino-American swingman said he wants Young to soak in the Filipino culture while lighting up the scoreboard in one of the toughest, most prestigious club tourneys in the Middle East set from 27 January to 5 February.
Clarkson and Young, also known as ‘Swaggy P,’ share special bond.
They were part of the squad that donned the purple and gold from 2014 to 2017 together with other young stars like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance and Julius Randle.
Their mentor was Byron Scott before being replace by Luke Walton, but their guiding light was the late great Kobe Bryant, whom taught them the tricks of the trade in the National Basketball Association.
While Young moved to the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and the Denver Nuggets in 2018 before cutting short his NBA career, Clarkson had some measure of success as he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2018, where he played with another future Hall of Famer in LeBron James, before moving to Utah Jazz in 2019.
Right now, Clarkson is in the tail-end of his contract with the Jazz and reportedly purchased a $7.5 million mansion in his hometown in San Antonio.
But more than that, he has a soft spot for Filipino fans after playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the 18th Asian Games and the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last year.
The 30-year-old Clarkson said he expects Young to win – inside and outside the court – when he represents the star-studded Filipino squad that will be handled by Charles Tiu.
“Enjoy the country,” Clarkson said when asked his instruction to Young when he learned that he will be playing for the Philippines.
“Nick was like a big brother to me in my rookie year. I hope he enjoys the country and gets buckets.”
Clarkson added that with Young skills and showmanship, he expects a large Filipino crowd to pack the venue every time Strong Group steps on the floor.
“He’s probably going to be a big crowd-favorite for sure,” said Clarkson, who has been averaging 20.7 points and 4.5 rebounds for the Jazz this season.
Young had already arrived in the country to train with Strong Group.
He will join a solid squad powered by former NBA players Renaldo Balkman and Shabazz Muhammad with Filipino-American prospect Sedrick Barefield, naturalized player Ange Kouame, National Collegiate Athletic Association Will Gozum and local stars Justine Baltazar, JD Cagulangan, Migs Oczon, Jerom Lastimosa and LeBron Lopez in the roster.
Tiu said they couldn’t wait to see Young play.
“We are excited to have him here. We all know what he can do offensively, and he’s a fun character so I think the Filipino fans will love him,” Tiu said.
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