On Friday, the Edmonton Stingers announced that two long-time members of the city’s basketball team, Steve Sir and Jordan Baker, would be taking over as the new general manager and coach, respectively.
Baker spent the last four seasons with the Stingers, and was a key part of two CEBL titles. He was the league’s Canadian player of the year in 2020. Sir is a basketball legend from the area, who was known for his sharpshooting skills. He played in leagues across Europe, Asia and North America before moving into the realm of player development.
Basketball’s popularity continues to grow. Two recent Canadian national team World Cup qualifiers drew near-capacity crowds to the Edmonton Expo Centre. But the CEBL, entering its fifth season, is still a new venture; its schedule runs from May to August, so it can attract ballers who are playing in the European leagues that only play through the winter months. It wants to be a seen as a destination for players who want to prove themselves, like former league MVP Xavier Moon, who was able to translate his excellent play with the Stingers into a chance to play in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers.
But, with so many leagues around the world, and so many opportunities for players, how will Sir sell the Edmonton experience to the players he identifies as potential prospects? We asked him to pitch us on the idea of playing for the Stingers.
“You are going to play for a guy [Baker] who has been an elite player,” he said. “I know, from my experiences, you want to play for a guy and be part of a club that has strong leadership, has leadership that knows what its like on the floor. And he hasn’t just been on the floor, he’s been the best player on the floor. So, I think it’s an interesting opportunity for import players and foreign guys to come and play for a guy like that. He’s young, he knows what it’s like to be out there, he has a good understanding of what it’s like to play in this league.