The mental prowess of NBA star Jordan Clarkson

Global ambassador for lululemon, Filipino-American NBA star Jordan Clarkson speaks to Stephenie Gee about his approach to well-being and being the best version of himself

Well-being is a word that’s constantly being thrown around, but defining it seems to be much harder than just talking about it. Is it a singular concept, a state of being, an austere practice? Tattooed from head to toe and standing at 6-foot-5, Utah Jazz player Jordan Clarkson seems to know, which as the case may be is because he, much like the word, is not easy to define.

First, he’s a versatile scorer and combo guard capable of both running the offence and creating his own shot. Next, he’s as much of a basketball star as he is a style icon, being consistently one of the most visible fixtures both on the court and in the front row at New York Fashion Week. And then there’s his unplaceable fashion sense – one moment sees him sporting an oversized Balenciaga Canadian tuxedo punctuated with a chunky crucifix pendant, and in another, he’ll be rocking a head-turning Thom Browne ensemble of a grey tweed sleeveless suit jacket and skirt.

“I like to think of my style as free-flowing,” Clarkson says. “I pick my outfits based on how I’m feeling, and I’m confident in myself which is what makes things pop. Whether it’s rocking nail polish or my full-body tattoos, my style is fully me – it changes with my mood and setting.” Not just the way in which he dresses, this authentic and free-flowing approach also applies to how he plays – since entering the league, Clarkson, with his double dose of confidence and disregard for criticism, has never passed up an opportunity to shoot – and how he approaches well-being.

“I think everyone’s approach to mental, social and physical well-being is unique, but I’d encourage people to think about what they’re doing when they feel their best,” he says. “Whether it’s moving your body, taking time to rest for your mental health, or spending time with loved ones for your social well-being, it’s all about what works for you as an individual. Creating a routine and surrounding yourself with people who support your total well-being is key.”

These days, Clarkson has committed to a routine that includes short five-minute breathing exercises that help him to connect with the present moment, finding the time in between a busy schedule of training and matches to step away from basketball and engage in other creative pursuits like drawing and creating artworks, and seeking the company of his daughter and other family and friends who fully support him in his endeavours and vision.

“Balance is key and with a busy schedule it’s not always easy,” says Clarkson. “But it doesn’t take much to keep up a routine that has major payoff – sometimes you just have to get creative to find the time.”

He seeks variety, too. And not just to keep things dynamic, but to build perseverance. After all, as many will attest, a routine, no matter how well thought-out, is nothing without consistency. “Consistency comes from building on small habits that become big ones. I think people take different paths to consistency, but it should be unique to your goals and mindset. For me, that means a mix of different exercise routines every week — from yoga three days a week to my usual training schedule. Consistency is just another way I can achieve my best self – social, mental and physical.”

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Life is all about pushing your limits, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of basketball where rosters can change at a moment’s notice based on performance. But as the 30-year-old has learned since embarking on his professional career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2014, progress relies on more than just how long you spend at the gym or running drills.

Taking the time to practise self-care and self-love is what has proven to be fundamental in transforming Clarkson into the best version of himself. Where once he was regarded as merely a bench chucker who might win you a game or two but can also shoot you out of one, now he’s among the pantheon of efficient volume scorers who strike fear in the heart of opponents.

“My training is tough, and taking care of my body during recovery routines helps me perform at the highest level,” he says. “When I’m able to give myself great rest and recovery, both physically and mentally, that allows me to be a stronger teammate and leader with a level head, and I know I can be at the top of my game.”

Perhaps this passion for movement and mindfulness is what makes Clarkson the perfect global ambassador for athletic apparel brand lululemon, as well as the face of their new Your Move campaign, which features a collection of the brand’s best-selling men’s apparel. He considers it a natural partnership. “I never want to put limits on myself and I know lululemon understands and respects that about me,” he says. “Partnering with lululemon felt authentic to me, my personal style, and I saw a lot of opportunities for growth. I interpret lululemon’s vision as about total well-being, and I love that approach because it involves more than just the physical and brings in the mental and social sides.”

His go-to pieces include the Parkway Insulated Coat for its “trench coat vibe [while being] super dope and super functional,” City Sweat Jogger for when he’s on the move, and the Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve Shirt and Pace Breaker Short which he lists as his training must-haves for their durability and versatility. “Right now, I’m just focused on Your Move, and I’m really excited to see what’s to come for my continued partnership with lululemon,” says Clarkson.

That said, in the same way, he hopes to pay forward the mentorships of his own past, Clarkson’s intentions for his work with lululemon extend well beyond himself: I hope people see our partnership as one that inspires others to find their own sense of style and express themselves through clothes and fashion that make them feel good. Everything we’re doing together is exciting, and I feel like they’re taking it to the next level. It’s cool to be a part of that.”

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