Jordan Clarkson says Kobe Bryant is ‘definitely my G.O.A.T.’ while speaking on Lakers legend’s influence

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read

Jordan Clarkson started his NBA career as Kobe Bryant’s teammate on the Los Angeles Lakers, and the current Utah Jazz standout said the late legend still remains his greatest player of all time.

“It meant a lot being around him my earlier years, definitely my G.O.A.T., a guy that I learned a lot from,” Clarkson said. “And he taught me so much. He means a lot to my career and the game of basketball, period.”

Clarkson played his first three-plus seasons with the Lakers from 2014 to 2018 before he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 31-year-old has developed into an accomplished NBA player and won Sixth Man of the Year honors for the 2020-21 season while with the Jazz.

He is coming off a 2022-23 season in which he averaged career-highs of 20.8 points and 4.4 assists per game, plus a career-high tying 4.0 rebounds per game. He is currently a member of the Philippines team that will compete in the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which begins Friday and runs through Sept. 10.

Clarkson’s first two NBA seasons coincided with Bryant’s final two campaigns, when the Lakers had very little on-court success, with 21 wins and 17 wins, respectively. Current New York Knicks star Julius Randle also was part of those teams, and Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was a rookie during Clarkson’s second season.

Bryant had a noteworthy impact on many Lakers teammates during his legendary 20-season career. Pau Gasol gave a heartwarming recollection of him as part of his Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech earlier this month, and Anthony Davis recently shared an emotional memory of when he brought his daughter to Bryant’s gym when she was an infant.

The icon also had a positive effect on some of his NBA opponents, with Andre Iguodala recently acknowledging that he would not have made the 2012 U.S. Olympic team had Bryant not mentioned him as being the best defender in the NBA.

The Lakers also reportedly intend to acknowledge Bryant with a statue outside of Arena sometime next year.

Bryant averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game during his NBA career, which was spent entirely with the Lakers. He was an 18-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, one-time league MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP.

He died in in a helicopter accident with eight other people, including his daughter Gianna, in January 2020 at the age of 41.

It speaks to his tremendous influence that there are players like Clarkson still in the NBA who readily acknowledge what the elder Bryant did for them over the course of their careers.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.