Clarkson first Fil-Am to win NBA trophy

By Al s. Mendoza


JORDAN Clarkson is the Sixth Man of The Year for the NBA’s 2020-2021 season.

Big deal. Almost the equivalent of the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.

So that every player worth his salt, whether from the NBA or PBA, covets that—next to the MVP trophy.

It’s a badge of honor achieved by diligent dreamers.

It’s next to the MVP plum, like becoming vice president of any republic.

It’s a label one can keep close to one’s chest like a medal of valor.

But how did that impact on Clarkson?

Huge like an Oscar trophy.

It means that Clarkson is the best player outside of the Top 5 of the Utah Jazz, No. 1 in the NBA regular season.

It means that Clarkson is the best among all of the NBA’s hundreds of reserves.

The best one coming off the bench.

He is no front-liner like a medical staff assigned to COVID-19 hospital ERs.

But Clarkson’s the next best available aide when a front-liner is off-duty or on a coffee break.

Of course, you know what a Top 5 is in basketball.

The first five players dispatched by a coach to start a game compose the Top 5.

It is arguably the best five from a team roster of 12 players.

Clarkson is that one from the seven second stringers left in the bench.  The best there is.

When the coach sees one of his five starters not delivering the goods, he picks Clarkson as reliever.

Like a spare tire, Clarkson is on call 24/7.

And when called to sub a struggling teammate, Clarkson won’t disappoint.

Clarkson’s grandmother, Marcelina Tullao Kingsolver, is from Bacolor, Pampanga.

Marcelina’s daughter, Annette, is Jordan’s mother.

But Jordan’s parents, who served in the US Air Force, divorced when Clarkson was not yet five years old.

Clarkson’s father would soon marry Janie and they would settle in San Antonio, Texas, when Jordan was six.

It was Chris Ross, the famed San Miguel Beer guard, who encouraged Clarkson to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games.

Gilas finished fifth, with Clarkson averaging 26.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game.  He was 46.0 percent in field goal shooting and had a 39.0-percent clip on three-point territory in four games.

Grandma Marcelina always shed a tear during the four times that she saw grandson Clarkson wearing the Philippine jersey.

We are that emotional.  Family closeness is a Filipino trait known worldwide.

But I think Clarkson’s that good a player because of his name.

Look, his first name of Jordan carries pedigree.  Isn’t it the family name of the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), Michael Jordan?

Add Clarkson to Jordan and what have we got here?

It’s Superman!

You know, Clarkson’s the full name of Clark.  And Clark Kent is Superman’s human name, right?

With his Sixth Man trophy tucked tightly under his belt, Jordan Clarkson has put Philippine basketball on the NBA map as the first Fil-Am to attain that feat.

Indeed, the Bacolor boy has become, more than Pampanga’s best, the Philippine pride like no other.

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