Take one look at Jordan Clarkson and the rest of the Utah Jazz roster, and you’ll quickly notice something that sets him apart from everybody else: his many tattoos.
If you’ve ever lived in or traveled to the great state of Utah, it likely didn’t take long for a few things to stick out in your mind — minivans abound, families are large, Sundays are sacred and when it’s time to hit the dance floor at a wedding reception, it’s usually best to shield your eyes. I’ve lived along the Wasatch Front for nearly a decade, and in spite of the jokes, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Still, for the above reasons and a host of others, when Jordan Clarkson’s plane first touched down in Salt Lake City, his appearance might’ve caught Utah Jazz fans off guard.
Regardless of how you look, being a rail-thin, 6’4″ shooting guard in the NBA is enough to cause heads to turn wherever you go. But beyond that, Clarkson’s covered in tattoos.
So many of them, in fact, that admittedly, Clarkson’s lost count. Back in 2018, however, his go-to tattoo artist estimated that he’d spent somewhere in the ballpark of around $20,000 on ink.
Not even Clarkson’s neck was able to escape the needle — Adam’s apple included.
What’s the reasoning behind this ink-driven infatuation (Athletic paywall), exactly?
Clarkson’s a quiet guy. He was that way with the Los Angeles Lakers. Things didn’t change with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Having now found a home in Utah, it’s more of the same. Clarkson lets his play out on the court do the talking — along with the personal stories his tattoos tell, as well.
The many images adorning Clarkson’s body pay homage to his daughter, parents and Cameron Moore — one of his best friends who tragically lost his life out on the hardwood while playing basketball overseas in 2016. For Clarkson, each symbolizes a key aspect of his journey as a man.
Not all of them are quite so serious, though …
A not-so-subtle shot at Lue, perhaps?
Hard to tell, as — at the time of this tattoo’s first public appearance — Lue was long gone from Cleveland and an assistant coach for Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Inquiring minds may never know, but the point remains the same — if there’s skin showing, it requires covering.
Things haven’t always been this way, though …
Before the 2018 offseason, Clarkson’s body was largely a blank canvas.
Conjectural minds might chalk up the sudden transformation to the Cavaliers being swept by the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals, but in an interview with Jared Zwerling of CloseUp360, according to Clarkson, tattoos have been on his mind for a number of years:
“I mean, I always wanted to get tattoos, that’s why I got them kind of fast. Because I already knew what I wanted and kind of where I wanted to put everything at — just had to wait for the right time.”
This summer, Clarkson will be an unrestricted free agent. Given his stellar play as the first man off the bench for Quin Snyder, the hope amongst Jazz fans far and wide is that he’ll stick around for a few more years of strong scoring in the Salt Lake Valley. Or at least long enough for a seagull, beehive, handcart or mountain range to occupy some remote corner of his body.
For the time being, though, his tattoos have supplied Utah with the “street cred” the state has forever craved.