Bring Talent to Edmonton, the Stingers Way

We asked new GM Steve Sir what the key is to attracting players to come to Edmonton
The new general manager of the Edmonton Stingers, Steve Sir, says there are lots of ways to sell Edmonton to potential recruits.

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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.

“The second part of that is that this is a good franchise. There’s great leadership with Reed [Clarke] as the president. You’re not coming to play for a group that is learning this as they go. A good footing has been established.

“The third part of it is that Edmonton is a great city in the summer. This is the best time to be here. You are going to be here when the weather is wonderful, people are going to be at the games, and you will be thinking, ‘Man, I should move to Edmonton.’ Maybe reconsider that when we get to January! But, we’re not recruiting for January, we are recruiting for May and that’s a positive thing. We have a great city to sell, we have a great team in a young league, and we have a great young coach.” He adds that Baker will surround himself with a strong, experienced staff, and that Canada itself is a selling point. “For people like Jordan and me, who have played abroad, one of things we say is, ‘Do I want to go live there? Do I see myself spending time in this country?’ For us to recruit foreign guys, there is a lot of interest from people to spend the summer in Canada. It’s awesome. There’s a lot of positives working for us. And then it comes down to how we pitch it and who we go after.”

If Edmonton Global is looking for help with its strategy on bringing top talent to the region, Sir’s words could come in handy.