Undrafted rookie forward Gary Clark mustered up the confidence during Houston Rockets’ training camp to pull Carmelo Anthony aside and show him a picture of them posing together at an AAU tournament several years ago.
Clark, who had to earn a two-way contract, allowed himself to be in awe of the 10-time All-Star for just a moment. Then Clark focused on competing for playing time — and quickly earned the spot in the rotation as a reserve power forward that the Rockets expected Anthony to fill this season.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china
“Crap, that was my favorite player at one point,” Clark told ESPN on Thursday night, when he played a key role in a 107-86 win over the Golden State Warriors hours after the Rockets announced they were “parting ways” with Anthony. “But it literally didn’t matter who was there. I was going to make sure I got on the court, because I know what I bring to the table.”
With a national television audience watching, Clark showed why coach Mike D’Antoni decided to give him consistent minutes. Clark had nine points on 3-of-7 shooting (all from 3-point range), seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 28 minutes. It was the kind of gritty, well-rounded performance the Rockets need from role players to complement their superstars.
“He’ll have his bad ones; he’s a rookie,” D’Antoni said of Clark. “There will be ups and downs, but he deserves all the confidence we can give him.”cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys
Though Clark idolized Anthony as a kid, his game is much more similar to that of Rockets power forward PJ Tucker. The 6-foot-8, 225-pound Clark is a tough, versatile defender who was a two-time American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year at Cincinnati despite being hampered those junior and senior seasons by an ankle injury that damaged his draft stock and prevented him from playing for the Rockets’ summer league team.
Clark was listed as questionable against the Warriors because of a bruised hip but didn’t consider sitting out against the defending champions.
“I mean, I’ve been through worse pain,” Clark said. “The last two years of my college career, I pretty much played in pain, so for me to have a little hip bruise, it wasn’t going to stop me.”
Clark earned minutes with the Rockets on the strength of his defensive ability — the facet of the game where Anthony struggles most, especially at age 34 — and has become comfortable enough as a 3-point shooter to play for Houston.