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The real reason the Knicks need Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson: In a league of his own

2023-24 Utah Jazz Media Day Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Does one’s individual style translate to team wins? Absolutely not. But can an athlete’s unique personality and individual style embody a city that is known as the fashion capital of the world? A city that is equally known for its hardworking, hardcore attitude and a melting pot of unique individuals with diverse styles that mirror the multitude of cultures in New York, and help bring different kinds of unheightened excitement to the hardwood at any given point? Absolutely!

Reflecting on the best Knicks teams from various eras, there’s a consistent theme of having a special and unique player who goes beyond mere box scores and embodies the heart and soul of the city. In the ‘70s, it was Clyde. Moving into the ‘90s, figures like John Starks and Anthony Mason took up that mantle. Even Latrell Sprewell can be included in that mix.

Walt Frazier with His Rolls Royce

While Iman Shumpert and JR Smith showcased their unique styles on the court, whether it was Shumpert’s high-top fade or Smith’s neck-to-toe body sleeve tattoos, neither quite embodied the larger-than-life persona that defines a team. The Knicks are in search of a character akin to what the Bulls had in Dennis Rodman, the Sixers had in Allen Iverson, or the Miami Heat had in Chris Andersen. Despite the greatness of the current Knicks roster, there’s a need for a player whose on-court and off-court style resonates with the essence of New York—a figure who not only contributes to the team culture but defines it through a genuine and distinctive sense of style both on and off the court.

Jordan Clarkson has the potential to bring a whole new dynamic to the Knicks. If the team were to acquire him through a trade before the deadline, I believe he would instantly become a Garden fan favorite. While his basketball skills, including scoring, shot creation, and playmaking, are evident, it’s the unique blend of style, personality, and attitude that sets him apart. Clarkson could offer something unparalleled among the players currently mentioned in trade rumors. His impact would extend beyond the court, injecting a fresh and distinctive energy into the team. In all honesty, I would’ve liked the Knicks to have gotten Dillon Brooks this past off season for the same reason, although Brooks would have been that Charles Oakley type hardnosed enforce.

Jordan Clarkson’s style is truly one of a kind. From his distinctive box braids to the iconic portrait sleeve tattoos, masterfully crafted by renowned tattoo artist Steve Wiebe to the finishing touch of painted fingernails and gold teeth– his fashion statement is unparalleled. Clarkson has even gone on record as proclaiming himself the best dressed player in the NBA. This unique sense of style has already placed him in the spotlight during New York’s fashion week. It’s this type of personality and character whose exuberant flair and flamboyant style can shine brightest under the bright lights on the biggest stage just a bounce pass from Broadway at the forefront of the Garden.

Milan Fashion Week - Guests at the Giorgio Armani fashion show Photo by Marco Piraccini/Archivio Marco Piraccini/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

The Knicks boast a formidable roster, yet what seems to be missing is that standout character who can truly energize the crowd. What’s missing is that game-defining personality, reminiscent of the era in the 90s when colorful characters were prevalent throughout the league. Nearly every team had its own iconic figure. In Miami, fans enthusiastically flapped their wings for Birdman every time he dunked, and in Boston, no one received more cheers than Brian Scalabrine. However, players with such charismatic appeal are becoming increasingly rare in today’s NBA.

The distinctive quality of these unique characters lies in their ability to captivate the crowd with every little action, even just stepping onto the court. As the crowd becomes energized, the players’ energy levels soar, lifting the entire team’s spirit. What sets Clarkson apart from figures like Scalabrine and Andersen is his trajectory toward becoming a future All-Star. A chance sighting or three wouldn’t merely be a novelty. Someone like Clarkson would have the pinwheel Garden roof popping off with every three he made by screaming Knicks fans in their double-0 jersey, maybe even wearing box braid wigs, or shooting sleeves with mock tattoos that the Garden could do as a giveaway. With some painted fingernails, the year-round Clarkson Halloween costume would be complete!

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