Thanks to the wonders of the interweb, the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk tracks down a MIA iconoclast.
“Jack Armstrong, the gravel-voiced broadcasting sage, was poring over statistics in the Air Canada Centre press room the other day when he mentioned an American of no fixed professional address.
“Where,” Armstrong wondered, “is Keon Clark?”
Chuck Swirsky fielded the same query on his radio show last week, when it was apparent Toronto’s hoopsters could use the spring-loaded athleticism Clark brought to the club in 2002 and 2003.
“Nobody can locate Keon Clark,” said Swirsky, the Raptors’ play-by-play man.
And it’s true, indeed, that the last time most NBA fans heard, Clark (above) had verbally accepted an offer to play for the New York Knicks during the summer of 2004.
But he never signed the deal. He never phoned the Knicks back.
He disappeared off the hoops map.
Finding the enigmatic beanpole was going to require the Sherlock Holmes treatment, to be sure. So your correspondent got out the magnifying glass, uncaged the bloodhound and, uh, typed Clark’s name into an Internet phone directory.
He answered on the third ring.
“It’s going all right, man,” said Clark in his familiar bullfrog baritone from his house in hometown Danville, Ill., about an hour’s drive from Indianapolis. “I’m just trying to live my life without nobody telling me what I gotta wear. I mean, when you’re going to work, you’re going to work. When we work, we wear jerseys, know what I mean? We’re not working in an office. We’re working at 94 feet.”
With that rant against the NBA’s new dress code, Clark bid adieu and hung up. When he answered his phone a couple of days later it was suggested an NBA team could still use him. Six-foot-9 and soft-handed, athletically freakish and 30 years old, Clark’s potential still tantalizes.
“Anybody could use a guy like me when it comes down to basketball,” he said. “I do know how to play it. But I don’t know how to play those other games that go along with the NBA. I’m non-conformist …”
He last played in the NBA for the Utah Jazz in November 2003, when he was traded to Phoenix and released. He said the Indiana Pacers called him as recently as a month ago, but he hasn’t heard from any teams since.
He didn’t say whether the drop-off in interest coincided with his appearance in a local courthouse earlier this month for a preliminary hearing on charges of possession of cocaine and cannabis, not to mention possession of a firearm without the proper identification card.
Clark also conceded that he spent a couple of days in jail recently after what he characterized as a dispute over child-support payments to the mother of his 5-year-old son, Keon.
“Jail ain’t built for 6-9 guys,” he said. ‘I’ll put it like this: When I was lying on the bed I had my feet out of the bars’“