I was excited for him when he got his deal. He texted me and said “Man, remember those days when we were in the D-League? —Ian Clark
SALT LAKE CITY — When Ian Clark and Rudy Gobert entered the D-League together neither of them knew what sort of friendship was going to come out of those days.
Clark and Gobert made their way to Utah in the summer of 2013. Gobert was originally drafted by the Denver Nuggets and later traded to the Utah Jazz. Gobert was sent to the NBA Summer League where he met Clark.
Clark, who signed to play in both NBA summer leagues for the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors, went on to win most valuable player when he scored 33 points for the Warriors in the championship game. Clark signed a two-year deal with the Jazz July 29.
“We got here at the same time and we spent a lot of time together off the court,” said Gobert about his friendship with Clark. “I think we went through a lot of things. We both weren’t playing when we got here. We were both sent to the D-League together.”
From those D-League days to now on different teams, both of them have grown in their roles they have and the friendship continues.
“We came in together as rookies,” said Clark. “We went through a lot of ups and downs together. I know obviously we aren’t on the same team now but we still keep in touch like we do. We talk all the time, he’s one of my best friends.”
Clark was cut by the Jazz in March 2015 and finished the season with the Nuggets.
On Sept. 25, 2015, Clark was signed by the Warriors and has been with the team since. Gobert and Rudy find themselves getting to the places they talked about.
“You always think positive,” said Clark. “You never want to sell yourself short. So, of course, I thought this was possible being able to play at the level I thought I could play at.”
Gobert recently signed a four-year, $102 million contract extension, and Clark had a career-high 22 points in a Warriors' win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
“It’s been great, we talk about it all the time,” said Clark. “I was excited for him when he got his deal. He texted me and said “Man, remember those days when we were in the D-League?”
As Gobert succeeds in Utah, Clark has found his way in California.
The first time Clark came back to face the Jazz in November 2015 it was his first time facing his former team and according to him, it’s a moment he’ll never forget.
Only playing in six minutes, Clark was the difference-maker. He made four 3-pointers to help the Warriors pull away from the Jazz.
“He’s a mature young player,” said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “Smart, great teammate, excellent shooter.”
As the two friends pave their own paths in the NBA, they let those moments spent grinding in the D-League together help motivate them.
“To look at us now,” said Clark. “With a chip on our shoulder, knowing that we could do this all along, but also knowing it doesn’t come easy. You have to put the work in for it to come. “