Jordan Clarkson, African American and Filipino, is the second person of Filipino descent to play in the NBA since Raymond Townsend, African American and Filipino, played in the NBA from 1978 to 1982. Jordan’s father Mike Clarkson, African American, and his mother, Annette Davis, half Filipina, met in the US Air Force Reserve and Jordan was born in the US. His parents divorced when he was young, and his father remarried.
Jordan, 6′5″ (196 cms) and 186 lbs (84 kgs), plays point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers and at times, teamed up with Jeremy Lin as the other guard to give the Lakers the first Asian backcourt ever in the history of the NBA. In Jordan’s first season in the NBA with the Lakers in 2014/15, he played in 59 games, with 38 starts, and averaged 12 points per game in an average 25 minutes per game. For the season, he was also named to the NBA All Rookie First Team.
In 2015, Jordan was in discussions on the possibility of also playing with the Philippines Men’s National Basketball Team. FIBA, the International Basketball Federation had ruled that Jordan was eligible to be a member of the Philippines team due to his Filipino mother, however Jordan ultimately passed on the opportunity due to a schedule conflict between the LA Lakers training camp and the Philippines national team playoff schedule. Even if Jordan had played for the Philippines, he would have missed crucial playoff games due to the Lakers training camp taking top priority. Here is an excerpt of Jordan’s released statement after the decision on September 9th, 2015:
“I’m very disappointed I won’t be able to play with the Gilas National Team (the Philippines Men’s National Basketball Team) during the FIBA Asia Championships from September 23 to October 3. We can all agree, the 12 men selected to represent the Philippines in this 2015 FIBA Asia Championship have earned the right and any continued efforts on my part would not be fair to the team. I will cheer them on to Gold. Let’s Get To Rio!”
In related news, the Philippines national team announced that their final team roster would include former NBA player, Andray Blatche. The team captured the silver medal in the 2015 William Jones Cup, the gold in 2015 MVP Cup, but lost to China in the finals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship. However, the Philippines qualified for the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Andray, the former NBA Washington Wizards / Brooklyn Nets player now plays for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association. Andray became a naturalized Filipino citizen in 2014, largely so that he could play on the Philippines national team. To our knowledge, Andray does not have any Filipino blood or other Filipino connections.
Note that several other NBA players are rumored to have Filipino blood, but none have been confirmed at this time. Most notably, Nate Robinson is said to be 1/8th Filipino through his mother’s side based on an interview that he gave, however his mother later contradicted this in an interview saying that while Nate was raised in a Filipino neighborhood, that he did not have any Filipino blood to her knowledge.
Ricardo “Ricky” Brown, did have confirmed Filipino blood (his mother was from Santa Cruz, Manila) and he was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1979, however he never played in the NBA. Ricky went on to play in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA) where he would later be named as one of the PBA’s Top 25 Greatest Players of all time.
The NBA is hugely popular in the Philippines. Despite only having a few official NBA / Philippines connections today, there are a number of up and coming potential NBA players with confirmed Filipino blood such as Kobe Paras, Bobby Parks, Jr., Stephen Holt, Aaron Craft, Japeth Aguilar, and Ron Artest III, so Jordan may have some NBA kapatids (Filipino brothers) soon.