Before Russ Smith there was Earl Clark.
From his surprisingly soft voice to his spacy moments on the court and lack of familiarity with the state of Arizona, E5 set the stage for the Russdiculousness we all know and love today.
Despite a few shining moments here and there, Clark's NBA career has been somewhat of a disappointment to this point. But now, "Earlsanity" is sweeping Los Angeles as the man who once inbounded the ball to a referee is making the most of his increased PT and putting up some monster numbers.
Because of Clark's recent rise to prominence, ESPN's Dave McMenamin penned a "Ten things to know about Earl Clark" piece earlier this week, which is too good not to share at least portions of here.
The most important thing to know: these days Earl considers himself to be a family man...who enjoys cake.
"Off the court, I'm mostly with my kids and my wife," Clark said. "We're gone so much, I like to spend a lot of time with my daughter and son and catch up, see what they're learning in school and see what my son has picked up because once you go on the road for seven days, we come back and they do something new. So, you kind of miss out on a lot."
Clark's daughter, Ke'nya, is three and his son, Nasir, is one.
Clark's birthday is actually this week. He turns 25 on Thursday, the same day the Lakers play the Miami Heat.
"All I would like is a win and maybe some cake, man," Clark said.
Also, he's still Earl.
At the end of the first quarter when the Lakers played Oklahoma City, Clark ran off the court towards the locker room. D'Antoni thought it was because Clark got confused and said it was halftime. Clark claims it as just because nature was calling. Regardless, it gave the team a good laugh.
Then, after the Cleveland game, Clark committed the mortal sin of overlooking the Lakers' next opponent in the Milwaukee Bucks and talking about L.A.'s "next game" against the Miami Heat.
"Miami . . . Milwaukee . . . They both start with ‘M,'" D'Antoni said with a laugh. "They hadn't seen the schedule yet."
The entire piece is definitely worth a read.