Thursday, 22 October 2015
JORDAN CLARKSON Feature-JORDAN RULES
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Jordan. That in the air tonight would be the only thing that would breathe the same inspiring life into the legacy of the legend of the Los Angeles Lakers once the closest player to ever play the game like Mike, Kobe Bryant leaves the locker room for the last time. Only a heaven sent second coming of a basketball God in the form of the number 23 would ease the pain of number 24 being raised to the rafters almost like a career funeral that you may as well go call for the trumpets. So how about J.C.? Or this Jordan? No we're not talking about Hill, he's gone over the Hickory fence to the Hoosier, Pacer state of Indiana. We're talking about Jordan Clarkson. We'll deceive you know more. Sure, sure Jordan is not like Jordan. He's not the Messiah! No basketball Jesus! Resurrection maybe? BUT he is the guy that's going to make it easier for the Lakers Buss brass to give up the gold of possibly the greatest Laker alongside Wilt, West, Magic, Kareem and of course Shaq ever to tape up in purple and hand the treasure chest keys to bring them back circling round a ring on their championship matrimony finger. Hang on...maybe make that three. A big one too with a pair of top ten draft picks over the last two years forming one hell of a Holy Trinity. There's this years number 2 rookie D'Angelo Russell out of Ohio State and the soaring sophomore sensation out of the University of Kentucky, Wildcat Julius Randle...who technically speaking is still kind of a rookie.
Opening night. It doesn't get much better than this. Especially in Hollywood, where even the movie stars are downtown like Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and the greatest rappers of the old school to witness one of the biggest nights on the entertainment calendar when it comes to the schedule of sports. Basketball is beautiful and any player lucky enough to receive a cap during the shade of summer looks forward to the fall like Christmas coming early. You can feel it right now with Clarkson's, Eddie Jones great jersey number that at the time of this press is the digit of days before the new season that will see him starting commences. But last year it was a different Los Angeles Times story. Clarkson was at the end of the bench in a suit, no sweats like no Jordan should ever be as all Californian lovin' eyes where on top ten pick Julius like he was the appointed Doctor Erving. Waiting room or not, Randle was the next in line, but he was late with his date with destiny. The pressure of a debut can get to you. It can even break you. And for this young 19 year old kid it all came to a head as he snapped...or should we say his leg did. Breaking not only his right tibia but all that was left of his 82 game season after not even 15 minutes of fame. The Lakers couldn't believe their lack of luck. The dreams of Jeanie would be the rude awakenings of a nightmare that was only just beginning with the season debut return of Kobe Bryant after a season crippling injury. A few games later, Kobe would join the bedside of Randle in the same manner, marking a big, red X on all the days of the rest of his calendar after he suffered a campaign ending injury again that many thought would crucify his career. After all the Chris Paul and Dwight Howard drama...and then losing a fond and formidable friend in Pau Gasol, the Lakers new young and old one-two punch was knocked out before they even got their chance to duke it out in the ring for the belt. After some Stern nixing and even a wiped smile off Dwight Howard's face, not to mention the retirement ravaging ailments of Steve Nash's athleticism many began to feel like the Lakers where cruelly cursed. Still, those who are desperate can always scrape a buck together for a ticket that wins the lottery. Dice roll or not. It may have all been snake eyes for Mamba's men the last down and out year. But that was then...and this is now.
Randle is back, preseason playing already like the Rookie Of The Year with a sophomore status. And he and one of the games greatest Kobe Bryant is (touch hardwood) not stuck to the end of the pine, tied to it in a suit of injury. They have the chance to run with a revamped roster of redux redemption. From the defensive return of Metta World Peace, protecting this house in battle and the changing of the guard that hopefully comes with fellow former top Indiana Pacer defender and paint protector Roy Hibbert. And we haven't even begun to talk about the signings of valuable veterans like almost star Brandon Bass and Euroleague one, Brazilian Marcelo Huertas from Barcelona for a team that even has two Sixth Men in the form of last years man of the year Lou Williams and of course the swag of 'Fancy' Nick Young. Finally, of course there's the new kid on the block, number one D'Angelo Russell coming in at the number two spot and the late round, fellow draft pick of Larry Nance's dunking son. Because if the Lakers recent lottery wind of change has anything to show and prove this season, Junior will be another sleeper steal. Because we're almost forgetting someone...someone who was passed up almost 50 times before his name was called with the 48th pick. Someone who already last year wrote all those 47 others off and then some more on his way to showing he could one day be top 50 in the league today. Someone who even with Randle's injury and all the other sick notes that where posted in the post players home marked STAPLES was even left by the Lakers on the end of the bench, looking good only in fancy attire. Only suiting up for real in purple and gold when it came to the D-Fender Development League. But this student was far from a guy on some D game. Even if it did take half a season for the limping Lakers to finally straighten up and walk with him, in 38 starts and less than a full season, Jordan managed to rise up the rookie rankings and rule this team that was missing almost everybody else. Carrying all this weight on his skinny shoulders and making more than one first team as this All-Rookie could have gone for R.O.Y of the season if he was given the Autumn and Winter as well as the Spring and almost Summer. This Rookie Of The Month and member of the Rook first team being only one of four second round picks to achieve this high honor in the last 30 years of NBA almanac history books. Now Laker nation stands up on Jordan's shoulders, nobodies going to sit him down now.
Half a season. Half a year. That's all the Lakers and the NBA needed to see that this kid was and is the real deal. Half a season to show-albeit to be fair due to a season ending injury-that Jordan could be just as good...if not better than Julius. Only half a season? Not a full campaign? This guys technically a rookie too like Randle and new boy Russell. That would be true if J.C. didn't truly turn it up and tune everyone else up as this J. Clarkson went top gear and ignited Los Angeles with Fast and Furious nitrus to the dry-erase song sheet of 15.8 points, 5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per everytime he started one of his 38 games. And how about a career high 30 points and 7 assists against last years dynamo dominant Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder of all teams as Clarkson showed this was no, fluke or luck of the Laker. He made history that night...not just for his new year and career personal best, but for the Filipino-American from Tampa Bay Florida forming the first Asian-American starting backcourt in league history alongside poster boy, superstar Jeremy Lin. It truly was a world encompassing moment of basketball beauty highlighted by the high hitting stat sheet on the box score. The Linsanity that started in a New York minute may be over in Hollywood, but Clarkson's backcourt power partnerships by the couple aren't. Whether in the form of former Mizzou college running and dunking mate Jabari Brown. Or this years rookie Point Guard number one D'Angelo Russell who may not be able to tween between both guard positions as well as Clarkson, but is good enough to move last years Laker leader to the two. Who is in turn himself, even great enough to move the grand, albeit ageing Kobe Bryant to the three of an old school, father, old man time Small Forward position. In this Warrior king, Steph Curry champion, MVP, three-point, small ball revolution that is the new NBA, the Lakers new big-three are headlined by a small backcourt that may not be Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier of the New York Knicks yet, but are the next generation of the Lakers and the NBA. Passed the torch and about to succeed from not even a full season of proof, in comparison to the half season of former Laker Gary Payton in the same backcourt as Milwaukee Buck Sam Cassell that couldn't afford to do the same. They have just that much potential. These kids are just too good. Don't believe me, just watch them warm up in the practice of preseason. Leaving critics cold, just wait until they boil over..these guys are that hot! And they're backed up by elite experience in the Sixth Sense form of the spirited Lou-Will and Young P. And to think rumor has it that the Lakers will trade both those guya (probably Iggy Azalea too) and Clarkson for Chicago Bull, former MVP Derrick Rose and all his injuries and problems. Yeah right! Bull####! Tell that to any Laker fan right now and they'll go against what they would have prayed for a couple of seasons ago for a "HELL NO"! Even a Kobe and Rose backcourt is not worth all this. And yes D-Rose may have been the Chi-town legend that made the Chicago Bulls finally get over Jordan but like Mike, Clarkson is meant for so much more. This point is going to make his own one and his own brand and lasting name. Let Jordan rule!