Congratulations To The Utah Jazz For Finally Recording One Damn Triple-Double

Jordan Clarkson hauled in a defensive rebound in the 46th minute of Utah’s blowout home victory over the Dallas Mavericks Monday night. The crowd erupted in euphoria. Jazz play-by-play guy Craig Bolerjack screamed, “He’s got it!” Clarkson called an immediate timeout and was surrounded by ecstatic teammates. The rebound—which came with the Jazz leading by 37 points—was Clarkson’s 10th of the game and completed the 31-year-old guard’s first career triple-double. More significantly, this was the first triple-double recorded by any Utah Jazz player since February of 2008, a span of 1,256 games.

As the score got out of hand in the second half, Clarkson and coach Will Hardy worked out a pact: Hardy would leave Clarkson in the game to pursue the triple-double with the understanding that Clarkson would call a timeout and exit the game the very moment it was accomplished. “I didn’t even think it was going to happen,” Clarkson said, recalling a fourth quarter that descended into sloppy garbage-time after Hardy and Dallas counterpart Jason Kidd emptied their benches. “A lot of air balls.” But Clarkson was determined to snag that final rebound, and Hardy was resolved to let him chase a statistical feat that for every other NBA team lost most or all of its luster over the past decade.

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Last season there were 119 triple-doubles across the NBA. There are players for whom it is now newsworthy if a month goes by and they do not record a triple-double. In the time since Utah’s last triple-double—recorded by Carlos Boozer against a team that doesn’t even exist anymore—Russell Westbrook alone has recorded 198 of them, and has averaged a triple-double per game in four different seasons. No NBA team but the Jazz has fewer than 10 triple-doubles over that span. Nikola Jokic, a center, has recorded five triple-doubles just against the Utah Jazz since 2016. From Feb. 2008 through the end of 2023, the entire Jazz organization had recorded fewer triple-doubles than were recorded by 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. Tyus Jones, a career backup point guard who in 567 career NBA games has dunked the ball twice, has recorded a pair of triple-doubles. Beno Udrih isn’t even the weirdest person with basically that exact name to have recorded a triple-double in that span: Ben Uzoh, a guard I have never heard of before but who somehow played 60 career NBA games, recored a triple-double. The members of the Nov. 2021 NBA Butt List have recorded more total triple-doubles just in the last three seasons than the Jazz have in a decade and a half. Triple-doubles aren’t what they used to be!

Clarkson’s late triple-double hunt in a blowout doesn’t quite belong in a category with Ricky Davis’s unsuccessful all-timer in 2003 (against the Jazz), or JaVale McGee’s undignified solo desperation in a lopsided loss in 2011, or Andray Blatche’s apoplexy when teammate Cartier Martin (now I’m just Remembering Guys) snatched away his last shot at a first and only career triple-double, in 2010. The points and assists and rebounds were all fairly earned, even if Hardy used some unorthodox lineup management to facilitate their collection. Still: Celebrating a semi-legitimate garbage-time triple-double with a raucous standing ovation and a locker-room water-bottle shower brushes uncomfortably close to mickey-mousery. Act like you’ve been there before, Utah!

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