Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, Thunder’s Andre Roberson remain close friends, except on the court

first_img“It’s crazy man. When we get on the court, we don’t talk to each other,” Clarkson said, laughing. “It’s like a code now. We don’t say anything to each other when we’re on the court.”Why?“When I’m on the court, you’re not my friend anymore,” Roberson said. “We crack a joke here or there. But we’re trying to win the game for our team. It’s that competitive nature we have for each other.”Roberson entered Tuesday’s contest with bragging rights in the Thunders’ 6-0 record vs. the Lakers since he first started playing against Clarkson. Meanwhile, Clarkson has topped Roberson in points (12.8, 8.2), according to Basketball Reference. Yet, those statistics do not mean much since Clarkson and Roberson play different positions. Still, Roberson called it “a little awkward” when he has defended Clarkson on a few possessions. The friendship first started in elementary school before morphing into teammates both on the AAU and high school basketball circuit. The dynamic seemed much simpler as teammates than rivals. Clarkson and Roberson led Karen Wagner High to the state semifinals in 2009 and 2010. The Thunderbirds also went a combined 105-14 through their three seasons together. LOS ANGELES >> The two close friends bonded over success. Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson and Oklahoma City forward Andre Roberson experienced elation when they led Karen Wagner High of San Antonio to the state semifinals for two consecutive years. They became close over tough moments. The two mourned last month over the death of 23-year-old Cameron Moore, a high school rival and close friend in their hometown.And the Clarkson and Roberson families got together like old times on Monday, swapping stories and catching up over a pre-Thanksgiving dinner at Clarkson’s home in Los Angeles. When the Lakers hosted the Thunder on Tuesday at Staples Center, though, Clarkson and Roberson interacted in a much different way. “I was going to shoot the ball. Most of the time I got it,” Clarkson said. “He knew he was going to get the rebound if I missed it. That’s how it went.”Clarkson was not exaggerating. He averaged 18.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.1 steals during his senior season. “I would do all the dirty work and he’d go out and get the buckets,” Roberson said of Clarkson. “I’d get the steals, blocks, rebounds and I’d give it to him.” The pair played well enough for both Clarkson and Roberson to have their No. 22 and No. 30 jerseys retired, respectively, during the 2015 NBA All-Star break. Roberson considered extending that partnership with Clarkson at the University of Tulsa and later at the University of Missouri. But Roberson chose the University of Colorado instead for undisclosed personal reasons that he said had nothing to do with Clarkson. Despite the distance apart, the two kept in touch frequently. That included when Clarkson and Roberson grieved over Moore’s unexpected death. “It was a shock and heartbreaking to the basketball hoop nation down in San Antonio. It was rough,” Roberson said of Moore, who played at Theodore Roosevelt High. “It’s gotten better, to be honest. I started looking at the brighter side. He’s not here anymore, but he’s in a better place.”Meanwhile, Clarkson described this past year as “crazy” and brought up “losing one of my best friends.” Clarkson’s other best friend helped, though. “He’s been my right hand man for a while,” Clarkson said of Roberson. “He’s seen my ups. He’s seen my downs. He’s seen the bad days. I’ve seen his bad days. It’s real cool.”The two are hardly as sentimental once the game starts, though.“We chill. We go eat. He’s still my brother, man,” Clarkson said, chuckling. “But when we get in between the lines, all we see is another jersey.” center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img