Stingers name Jordan Baker head coach, Steve Sir general manager
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There has never been a better pick for the Edmonton Stingers.
Following the off-season departure of head coach and general manager Jermaine Small, losing a two-time leader with the highest winning percentage in Canada’s elite basketball league history has never been easy.
But having not one, but two natural selections—both of which happen to be from your own country and are as much a part of the Edmonton basketball fabric as any other—certainly softens the blow.
On Friday, the club announced former star striker Jordan Baker as their new head coach and new GM Steve Sir, who previously served as first director of player staff.
And given their previous association with the Stingers, they’re partly to blame for setting the bar so high when taking on these new roles in a familiar market that’s grown to expect excellence on the pitch.
“I wouldn’t want anything less,” said Baker, who played all four previous seasons with the Stingers, won both titles and was named the league’s top Canadian in 2020. “I don’t think I want to go into a position where if you go .500 I’d be really happy with that.
“We want to have high expectations because that will help us keep our standards high for our players and the organization. We want to be the best team in the league, year after year, doing the best for the community, being the best on the court, and getting the most wins.
“And we want to be the team that everyone in the league wants to play for. Last year we took a small step back from that and I think we have a new focus now and look forward to getting to work.”
As two-time defending champions, the Stingers came into their final season and finished .500 in the regular season before being eliminated from the competition in the play-in round.
And responsibility for returning to excellence begins and ends with Baker.
“That’s one of the things we can sell,” Sir said of Baker, who also serves as the head coach of men’s basketball program NAIT Ooks during the offseason. “We have a man who has gone from being a prominent feature player in the league to being a head coach and if I’m a player, that’s what intrigues me from the start: a man who’s going to have a great career as a professional coach , as a college coach.
“If I’m a guy looking for opportunities to play in the summer, it intrigues me immediately because it means he understands what it’s like to be a high-level player. He understands what is important for a professional. And I know Jordan. He’ll want to be successful at it, he’s not just taking the job to take a job. That means he’ll work and that’s exactly the same position we put ourselves in as players. We worked and passed a lot of people.”
Both need no introduction here. Baker was an all-star at the University of Alberta, where his parents are also highly decorated alumni, while Sir played NCAA basketball in San Diego State and northern Arizona before playing professionally in half a dozen different countries. Sir also played with the Stingers’ progenitor Edmonton Energy under his father and head coach Paul Sir, executive director of the Alberta Basketball Association.
“Jordan and I have had success as players at different levels since high school,” Steve said. “And obviously when Jordan went into college, he had an incredible career at U of A, and my career in Div. 1 in the States and the career opportunities that came up after that, and playing national teams and 3×3s and getting into a lot of different things and thriving at all these different levels.
“The next step is, can we do that and help the Stingers on this side of the ball?”
Because as much as Baker and Sir could still hold their own on a basketball court, that part is left to their players.
“As I entered the final years of my playing career, some of the things I was really proud of was trying to mentor the younger players on the squad and helping them find their way as professionals and helping them grow too learn what it means to be a professional athlete,” Baker said. “As a coach, it gives me a better opportunity to help these guys in this way.
“Obviously it’s going to be a challenge not to hit the ground and hit a guy, grab a rebound and take a shot, but it’s an exciting challenge for me and I think it’s only been one direction in my career It’s a matter of time before I take over here. Better now than in a few years I think.”
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