Jordan Clarkson has evolved plenty over the course of his career, going from Los Angeles to Cleveland and now Utah, where he is one of the last remaining holdovers from the Jazz teams that were led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Clarkson has always been a free spirit on the court, but as he’s become a veteran, he’s learned how to pick his spots and bring a steadying presence to a young Jazz team in need of that guidance.
The result has been his most productive season as a pro, averaging 21.0 points and 4.2 assists per game, both career-highs, as Utah has been a surprising play-in contender at 29-31, a half-game back of Oklahoma City for 10th in the West.
Over All-Star weekend, Clarkson took part in a live taping of ‘Scoring Credit’, a partnership between Chase Freedom and THINK450, the partnership and innovation arm of the NBPA. Clarkson was joined by Walker Kessler and Baron Davis to talk about the nuances of financial literacy, budgeting, financial planning, and his own experiences and financial education. Dime spoke with Clarkson after the panel discussion to chat about who he looked to for financial advice off-court, as well as growing into himself on-court and the advice and relationship he forged with Mike Conley.
The process of financial literacy, whether that’s in home ownership or investing, budgeting or working to save, can be overwhelming. What’s a good entry point for people who want to get started but aren’t sure how?
A good entry point I think is just asking questions. Trying to figure it out. It’s something where picking up a book, figuring it out on your own sometimes [helps], but you kind of have to experience it to give someone that education as well. You have children, your family, whatever, somebody could come and ask you the same question, so that’s why I say generational wealth and the education comes from people that are around you.
Are there people that you look to, and talk to, when you were starting to build this wealth and financial awareness for yourself?
A lot of it was my dad. He did a lot of work. He started, basically from nothing as well. He was in the military, served in the armed forces, stopped that when I was born. Created a business, started to learn about LLCs and the whole thing, and that was just washing cars. He started his own business and that was a successful way to support us. He figured out things, went back to school, starts learning more, that education gets passed down to me. Then he finds somebody else who has further education than that, and we figure it out from there. But like I said, that’s been a point of today in terms of spreading that education of wealth and knowledge.
Would you say your dad’s more regimented approach, if it was that, has that rubbed off on you in certain ways? Whether with this, or in your game?
Well my game is pretty free, but when it comes to off the court living and spending, he keeps me to a real strict and healthy diet in terms of that [laughs].
They do that, right?
Right! Always. He’s always my ear, ‘What is this credit card bill?’ You know what I mean? It’s part of it though. It’s all love. We want to keep continuing to spread our education.
I recently read that you said you feel you’re finally evolving into who you’re supposed to be. Can you explain that?
It’s kind of weird. Not weird, but it’s to a point where I’ve grown. I went through trials, tribulations, I’m 30, I’m getting older and continuing to learn from my experiences and the mistakes that I’ve made. And now I’m to a point where I’m comfortable in my skin. If I would’ve told myself earlier, I would have told myself keep doing what you’re doing. Learn from him and keep pushing. Because I know I’m not going to make the same mistakes, and I know my daughter isn’t going to make the same mistakes I made because I’m going to educate her on everything.
You’re right, it’s a hard thing to explain and reconcile. Because it is just a feeling of comfort and ease with yourself, when you hit your stride. Do you find that now, you’ve lost some of the guys you started to play with on this Jazz team? Mike Conley’s gone, you had a good relationship. Do you now take it upon yourself to step into that leadership role?
Yeah, I do. Mike was like, I’ve been a fan of Mike since high school. Watching him growing up playing.
Yeah. Ohio State. Just watching him, learning from him. Talking to him all the time, sitting next to him on the plane. I still call him. I called him on the way over here. Just trying to take his leadership skills. I think he has a good understanding on what’s going on in life. He’s comfortable in his skin and it’s made his career, made his family, and made who he is so impactful.
He’s a very calming presence.
Always. I always call him Yoda. I’m the wild one, I’m just out there, and he’s kinda like, pulling the reins like, ‘Bro listen.’ But I’m finally coming to that point where I think I’m finally coming to understand what he’s been saying. Maybe because he’s not here, and I can’t speak to him every day in terms of getting on a plane and talking to him at practice every morning.
What did he say to you on the way over here, if you don’t mind me asking?
‘What you doing tonight?’ [laughs] ‘Want to come over, have a glass of wine and chill?’
That’s very good. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you a bit about your style. What kind of stuff do you think about when you’re figuring out what to wear for specific games?
Umm, cartoon characters.
Is it also a mood thing, a comfort thing?
Yeah. Mood, comfort, and then like, anime characters and cartoons.