Jordan Clarkson: The Unsung Hero of Philippine Basketball
Representing your home country in a major sport is one of the many important responsibilities athletes hold. It is unfortunate that most cannot represent their country because of the potential risk of injury before a sport season starts. It is also rare to see an Asian athlete, let alone a Filipino, in baseball, football, basketball and hockey, which are the four major sports in the U.S. However, there is one individual that truly stands out as one of the best to represent the Philippines. Jordan Clarkson, a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, is half Filipino.
Clarkson has expressed his interest to play for the Philippines National Basketball Team, Gilas Pilipinas. However, there is a rule within the International Basketball Association agreed by theNBA that states a player can only participate in events within the FIBA if it’s the Olympics orthe World Cup. The Asian Games, which only includes Asian countries, is not regarded as a major event within FIBA standards. These strict rules and guidelines inhibits players like Clarkson from representing their nationality.
Clarkson addressed this roadblock when he released a statement on his Facebook page on August 12th, 2018 that reads, “To my Filipino Brothers and Sisters, I am terribly disappointed to say that I have not received the required consent to participate in the upcoming Asian Games with our National Team…Despite this, my desire and ambition to play with my countrymen in the future remains resolute and I am adamant that this dream will come true!”
The FIBA and the NBA spoke to each other days after Clarkson expressed his disappointment on his Facebook page in the decision that made him ineligible to play for the Gilas Pilipinas. After further discussion about a rule change in those events, the NBA agreed to give those who represent an Asian country one-time exception to play in the Asian Games, which grants Jordan Clarkson and two other players, Zhou Qi and Ding Yanyuhang of China, to represent their country.
For Clarkson, this would be his first time representing the Philippines after the FIBA regulation debacle. After the NBA released this new policy, Clarkson stated in a different Facebook post, “My heart is full of gratitude for everyone who helped make this happen.” The fight to represent the Philippines for Clarkson is much more than a game of basketball. His ability and passion for the game and the importance of his culture is what makes him who he is.
I, myself, wanted to become a basketball player as an inspiration from watching the NBA. Growing up, I didn’t have role models like Clarkson who shares the same ethnicity as me. I grew up watching greats players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan. It is discouraging to see the NBA with its minimal representation of Filipinos in the Association. However, it doesn’t stop young Filipinos who aspire to be an NBA player, as certainly it didn’t stop me. However, coming from a school that doesn’t exactly attract scouts and also the lack of Filipino representation in the basketball creates the non-existent identity of Filipinos in the NBA.
However, the grit Clarson possesses should inspire other Filipinos to pursue a career in basketball. The fact that he is currently in the NBA is invitation to younger Filipino children watching him play. His presence is affirmation to these children that they, too, belong in this organization. No matter how much the odds are stacked against them, Filipinos who want to play basketball can always defy the odds, just like Clarkson.
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Chris Villedo - San Jose, CA Contributor
Chris is a student at Sonoma State University majoring in Sociology and minoring in Social & Political Philosophy. He would like to help others, specifically those who have special needs in excruciating situations. It is his drive and purpose to direct these individuals back onto the right path. In his free time, he likes to be around friends and family and play video games. As a Filipino born in the United States, he wants to focus ideally on Filipinos born in the United States and the philosophical and sociology aspects of being a minority in the U.S.