The flashy 28-year old shooting guard Jordan Clarkson has been having the best season of his NBA career, playing the role of the 6th man for the league's best team Utah Jazz. After getting traded to Utah last season, Clarkson immediately jumped into the role of pure scoring and energy from the bench, finding his niche very quickly. Averaging 17.4 points with 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists has made Clarkson a nighty contributor for the Jazz and propelled him at the top of the 6th man of the year conversation.
Before he was a key piece of the Utah Jazz, Jordan Clarkson started his career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014, giving him the privilege of playing alongside Kobe Bryant for the last two years of his career. For a young, skilled, and confident guard like Clarkson, that was the perfect opportunity to watch and learn from one of the best.
But it wasn't all roses, as the Lakers were a losing team at that time, and Kobe being the born winner he is, didn't stand for it. That was especially felt during Kobe's last season, as numerous losses marked the farewell tour. So when the team wouldn't perform, Kobe would make sure they knew about it. After a loss in Portland, Kobe voiced his frustrations towards his younger teammates about their attitude and work habits. In an interview with USA Today, Clarkson shared how that moment felt and what it meant for the young Lakers core:
"I remember him just really getting upset. You've seen him come out of his skin and grill us a little bit. But from that point on, I felt all of us had a different look at everything with what we wanted to do. That's probably, in terms of development, a little wake-up call."
Jordan Clarkson, USA Today
A classic "Mamba Mentality" move by Kobe, as he just wanted his teammates to have the same fire and motivation to get better as Kobe did. Clarkson pointed out Kobe was harsh and direct but also very supportive. He would regularly share his tips and tricks accumulated over his impressive career. Bryant could forgive mistakes but never tolerated bad work habits and not leaving it all on the floor or in the gym. Kobe helped set the foundation for the great performances Randle and Clarkson are giving in 2021.
The wake-up call they got from the great Kobe Bryant in 2016 definitely had something to with that.