When Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson heard about Jordan Clarkson hosting his second Nike JC6 kids basketball camp at the Heart of Los Angeles, focusing on children in underserved communities, he asked him if he could make an appearance.
“I love to be in the gym,” Magic said. “I told him (Clarkson), I’m coming over to the gym, I want to be with the kids!”
Amidst chatting with the young hopefuls about basketball fundamentals, IQ and hard work, Magic also discussed his expectations for Clarkson, who is heading into his fourth season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We’re excited about our season,” Johnson said before taking questions from the kids. “He (Clarkson) is going to play a major role in us being a better team this year. We felt we put some weapons around him that would even make his game better. I have challenged him because I want him to be Sixth Man of the Year, so I’ve challenged him to play like that. I think he has the potential, the talent, he’s worked hard this summer.”
Magic was then asked about who his favorite teammates were to play with. After starting out with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then James Worthy and Kurt Rambis, among others, Magic then explained why Michael Cooper was also on that list.
“Like I want Jordan (Clarkson) to do, Michael Cooper won the Sixth Man Award a couple times, and he was All-Defense every single year, because the boy was a bad, bad basketball player, such an unbelievable player. He was our sixth man, but you would believe he was our starter. And, he was on the court in the fourth quarter, sometimes it doesn’t matter if you start or not, it’s whether you’re in the game in the 4th quarter and guess who’s supposed to be in the game in the 4th quarter?”
Magic smiled as he waited for the kids to yell out: ‘Jordan Clarkson!’
After starting all 79 games he played during his sophomore season, Clarkson spent most of his minutes coming off the bench last year, where he averaged 14.7 points, 2.6 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals in 29.2 minutes per game, shooting 44.5% (and 32.9% from three-point range).
Magic hopes to see those numbers increase, but even more importantly, on the defensive side of the ball.
Before leaving the campers, Magic commended Clarkson for being on the right track.
“I’m really happy that Jordan’s here in the Heart of Los Angeles at his basketball camp doing this for you guys. That’s what its all about. Yes he’s made it, but now he’s also trying to help you guys make it, and that’s the mark of a good man to come back in the neighborhood and do a camp.”