Typically a game in mid-January, the dog days of the NBA season, doesn’t spark much curiosity or emotion. It’s usually when teams are either preparing for the upcoming trade deadline or trying to grind through the mid-part of the season to prepare for the playoff push.

That won’t be the case on Jan. 19 when Utah hosts Houston at Vivint Arena. Instead of the typical January blues, a sort of league history will unfold when Utah’s Jordan Clarkson and Houston’s Jalen Green take the court together. 

For the second time in NBA history — the first being back on Oct. 28 when these two teams played — two players with Filipino heritage will play in an NBA game together. 

Speaking postgame on Oct. 28, Clarkson reiterated how much the game of basketball means to Filipinos, and how he and Green sharing the court could further inspire others.

“They love basketball,” Clarkson said following Utah’s 122-91 victory over Houston on Oct. 28. “Just us two being here is super inspirational for the youth and every Filipino-American, every Filipino, anybody with Filipino blood. I feel like it’s just an amazing experience, something that can’t be done again because (it was) the first. Hopefully we see more.”

The Jazz will now do their part and honor Clarkson and Green by hosting Filipino Heritage Night on Jan. 19. It will be a massive celebration of Filipino heritage, with multiple in-game activities and commemorative t-shirts to honor the occasion. 

Erwin Hines, a San Diego local, is the designer of the commemorative t-shirts being sold at the team store. The white shirt is being sold with the ticket packages being offered for the game, while the black shirt is only available in team stores.

When designing the commemorative t-shirt, Hines knew he wanted something that not only promoted his heritage but something that was unifying. 

Echoing what Clarkson said about Filipinos loving basketball, Hines elected to go with the Tagalog word “Pamayanan,” which translates to “community.” He also used symbols like the sun and basketball to describe unification.

“The star/sun represents unity and togetherness,” Hines said. “Having that design behind the basketball with people holding it into the sky, it’s like a trophy. Basketball for us is unifying, and that’s what I wanted to show.”

For Hines, his journey to discovering his Filipino heritage began as a young boy growing up in the Midwest. 

His parents ensured that he never lost sight of who he was or where he came from, instilling in him the cultural effects of being black in America. 

But he always felt that there was a part of him missing.

His natural curiosity and desire to learn about his culture led him to his grandma, a first-generation Filipino. From small stories to curse words, Hines began to discover more about his Filipino heritage as he got older, and in return, began to embrace that side of him. 

“Growing up in the midwest, there weren’t many Filipinos around, so I didn’t really understand a part of me,” Hines said. “My grandma was Filipino though, and started to teach me a little more. But also at that age (in middle school), I didn’t really care about heritage or history. … I would ask how to say curse words.”

Although it would still be years before Hines truly embraced and understood the Filipino side, that part of him is a massive part of his identity as a 35-year-old adult living in San Diego.

“The projects I work on serve as opportunities for me to connect with my grandma and her story,” Hines said. “It’s a space for me to be reminded that I’m a continuation of that story, a living and evolving legacy. Now that legacy includes the Utah Jazz. … It’s a blessing to collaborate with them.”

Hines isn’t the only member of the Filipino community being represented on Jan. 19. 

Joseph Buenaflor will sing the national anthems while Grace Shoptaugh and Gracie Lou Cultural Dance Group will perform Filipino cultural dances. Mary Navalta-Chavan (President, Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Utah), Grace Lack (Public Relations Officer, National Federation of Filipino American Associations), and Melle Moreno (Officer, Pilipino American Association of Utah) will also be in attendance.

Jazz players have purchased tickets for the game and donated them to local organizations, including the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Utah, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, and the Pilipino American Association of Utah.

To help celebrate the night, the Jazz are offering upper-bowl tickets, which includes a limited-edition Filipino Night T-shirt (sizes subject to availability), for just $25. For those wanting to purchase the package but for seats in the lower bowl, prices start at $120. To purchase tickets, click HERE.


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