Edmonton is in Jordan Baker’s blood.
Raised in the southwest of the city, he played for an Edmonton youth club team for which his mother, Trix, was head coach and father, Doug, an assistant. He won two high school city championships playing for Harry Ainlay School.
When it came time for university, Baker chose the University of Alberta, where both of his parents played basketball and his mother coached the women’s team to a national championship in 1999.
Jordan still holds the Golden Bear records in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.
Though Baker began his professional career abroad in Germany, Portugal, and Japan, the founding of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) in 2019 represented the chance for him to come home. It was all the more special with the Edmonton Stingers as a franchise.
“It’s very special for me to be able to suit up once again, after six [or] seven years away, in front of friends and family,” Baker said. “[It’s special] to play in front of my parents and my wife, and to be able to not be overseas, having to play in front of a bunch of random people, but people that you care about and that you want to represent in the highest way.”
The Stingers and Baker have been a match made in basketball heaven. They won the 2020 Summer Series as Baker was named Canadian Player of the Year and joined teammates Xavier Moon and Travis Daniels on the All-Star First Team.
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So far this season, Baker and the Stingers are 4-0 after holding the banner-raising ceremony from their 2020 victory before their game on July 8. They’ve averaged several hundred fans each game in attendance to start the season, which Baker says he’ll “never take for granted again” after playing without fans during the pandemic.
Baker’s past in Edmonton continues to inform his present in the CEBL and beyond. George Hoyt is an assistant coach with the Stingers, and he coached Baker in high school at Harry Ainlay.
In addition to being a Stinger, Baker is the incoming head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) and an assistant coach for his alma mater Golden Bears. He runs youth skill clinics across the city and is heavily involved in the high-school scene in Edmonton.
“Edmonton has done a lot for me,” Baker said. “I’ve been here for a lot of years, so I’m invested. I do care about the people that live here. I do care about the young players that are trying to make careers for themselves here.
Baker continues to reinvest his success back into his community. He founded the Baker Elite Clinic in 2015 to give youth players in Alberta access to some of the best basketball minds in the country. Hoyt coaches at Baker’s clinic. Brandon Brock coaches there as well, in addition to coaching for the Edmonton Stingers and with Baker on the Golden Bears’ staff.
The basketball community in Edmonton is small and tight-knit, and Baker is a significant piece of the fabric weaving it together.
He knows his basketball-playing days will be over in a few years. The 29-year-old is a star in the CEBL today, but he’s already looking forward to the next step.
Working as coach with NAIT
Baker is thrilled to be a head coach for the first time this upcoming season at NAIT, and he looks forward to discovering if he’s a laid-back players’ coach like his father or a game manager like his mother. One day he wants to be a head coach in the U Sports ranks.
Eventually, he would love to lead the University of Alberta from the bench as his mother did.
“It’s definitely one of those jobs where you see yourself kind of finishing your career,” Baker said.
For now, the Stingers benefit both from Bakers’ talent as a player and knowledge as a coach. He’s a significant part of their title defence.
But whatever his future holds, either this season or many years down the road, Edmonton most of all will benefit from Baker’s deep-rooted sense of community and love for the game.