Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Clarkson likes to yap it up with fans during games. Whether on the road, at home or wherever, it's part of the game experience for Clarkson to have a playful back and forth with the people sitting courtside.
On Monday, in Utah's 110-104 win in San Antonio, the fun dialogue turned sour.
As the game turned to a timeout during the fourth quarter, Clarkson's Jazz teammates had to keep him away from one courtside fan. Clarkson didn't charge after him or anything, but he was walking toward a fan who was calling for him.
"The guy just keeps antagonizing me and almost challenges me, like, 'What are you gonna do about it?' after saying a bunch of stuff," Clarkson said.
He didn't reveal exactly what was said, but made it clear that his comments had crossed the line from fun and friendly banter to unacceptable behavior. Clarkson said he was walking away from the situation when the fan yelled at him again, which caused Clarkson to turn back around.
"This guy was just a little bit too malicious for whatever he was saying," Clarkson said. "At one point, I just kind of just blacked out and I kind of was taking a step towards them."
His teammates stepped in to keep Clarkson away, and the shooting guard came to his senses a bit, too.
Clarkson knew full well the punishment for any physical altercation would be much worse for him than the fan who was baiting him. The fan would be kicked out of a game; Clarkson would end up sitting out games and would lose a lot of money. The fan's challenge just wasn't worth it.
"Man, I don't want no problems with nobody," said Clarkson, who scored a game-high 23 points against the Spurs. "I'm in the league, I make a lot of money. He ain't gonna lose no money; I'm gonna end up losing a lot of money and sitting out games. I'd lose ($1 million). I could put that in my daughter's pocket and she could go buy a Bugatti or something if she wanted to.
"I don't wanna lose no money. I want no problems. I ain't got no problems with nobody. So I'm just out here having fun trying to compete in a safe environment."
Clarkson told security about the verbal abuse and let them take care of the fan.
Clarkson compared the situation — and many other fan-player verbal altercations — to someone going up to a fry cook at McDonald's and constantly harassing them for no real reason, and then challenging them because you like some other fries more; that wouldn't be a normal thing to do.
"There's no room for that," Clarkson said. "We come here to entertain and play basketball, compete, put on the show — I'm not trying to deal with fans and them being too drunk or being whatever at the games, trying to start anything."
Jazz coach Quin Snyder said he was thankful for how quickly things were handled. The security team pulled the fan from the game and that was the end of the confrontation.
"You always appreciate when you're on the road and the home team and security protects your players in that respect," Snyder said.
As for Clarkson, the incident isn't going to change how he interacts with fans; even on Monday, he was having some friendly banter with another person sitting courtside.
"Me and him kept winking at each other, but this guy (the kicked-out fan) was just a little bit too malicious for whatever he was saying," Clarkson said.
But whatever it was, it still wasn't worth his daughter's future Bugatti.