Pride of the Northside
Edmontonian Andrew G. Parker is helping put Edmonton on the map when it comes to basketball.
I had the opportunity to ask Andrew a few questions and here is what he had to say:
Which NBA team is your favourite?
Andrew: My favourite NBA team is the Los Angeles Lakers. But I also love the Toronto Raptors because they are Canada’s team and I used to model my whole basketball style after Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady when I was young.
Do you find it hard being a basketball fan, advocate, and player in such a Hockey driven town like Edmonton?
Andrew: I don’t find it difficult actually. I enjoyed watching Hockey as a kid in Edmonton and I still love the Edmonton Oilers. Watching NBA games on TV can sometimes be difficult due to more TV time being given to Hockey but I bought the NBA online league pass so I never miss a game. The thing about true fans of basketball is that they are very resilient, so as a true fan I do whatever I can to support my teams. Also, the game has grown tremendously in the past 20 years and with more Canadian talent being recognized in our country I only see good things for both fans and players in the future.
The Pride of the Northside tournament continues to see more and more success every year, what do you attribute this to?
Andrew: Very strong ties within both the North Edmonton community and the Edmonton basketball community. The support from all of the community leagues, Junior high schools, High schools, Colleges and Universities has been tremendous. What sets the Pride of the Northside apart from other tournaments is that it is a tournament put on by the community, inside the community, for the entire city of Edmonton. For years Londonderry outdoor court has been the most popular outdoor basketball court on the Northside, and as an ambassador of the professional sports community (and son of North Edmonton) I (and other organizers) really wanted the whole city to see what its was like. Pride of the Northside allows many children to not have to leave their home community to receive a quality tournament. It also supports various social causes in Edmonton as well as provides an excellent event in the inner city. We are supported by many families, principals, teachers, coaches, and players not just from North Edmonton but from all over the city and Alberta. The beauty of this tournament is the involvement of not just major corporate sponsors (with whom we are very thankful for) but our independent donors who are sincerely looking to make a difference in the lives of the kids in our community. Our tournament is not a money making enterprise; it is a true community initiative. Another reason for our succes is that I (as well as other volunteers) was very fortunate to play at every level of basketball in this city of Edmonton and subsequently now I am connected with many schools. I coach at MacEwan university, I am a U of A Golden Bear alumnus, I am Concordia College’s first Professional Basketball player, I volunteer at M.E. Lazerte high school, and I was a student teacher at Mary Butterworth this year. And each of our volunteers has a unique basketball story or connection to Edmonton basketball or North Edmonton. Our volunteers selflessly donate their time to ensure that each participant feels welcome to our community. So to summarize: our tournament success can be attributed to every single family, community member, and basketball ambassador involved during its creation and its current incarnation.
How closely are you watching the up and coming Canadian talent like Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk, and Andrew Wiggins?
Andrew: I have been watching them very closely. I recently reached out to both Andrew and Kelly via social media and I expressed great support for their succes. All of these young gentlemen are pioneers for our country and I couldn’t be happier for them. I remember how proud I was when my brother Stephen Parker (Alberta Golden Bear and CIS national champion) was invited to the National team camp, and then I got invited to Edmonton’s National team camp, and I am most proud of my cousin Jermaine Bucknor, who has been a part of the program for the past decade. Canada has continued to grow in terms of our influence on the basketball scene in the world, and I couldn’t be prouder of Anthony, Andrew and Kelly. Anthony has the skill and talent to be a great player in the league and Kelly has been such a force at Gonzaga that it will exciting to see him create his legacy in the NBA. I’m calling Andrew Wiggins as the #1 draft pick overall next year, he’s on par to be a Lebron/Kobe sensation in the NBA, Canada has never seen anyone like him, especially at such a young age.
Do you think any future NBA players will come out of Edmonton?
Andrew: Absolutely. There are at least 5 players currently that I have seen in Edmonton at the Junior high and High school level who have the potential to get there. What we need to do as coaches is be very cognizant of the fact that some of this kids need to be nurtured and not discouraged when they have ambitions with the game. I remember one teacher when I was in high school told me that I shouldn’t want to become a pro because the odds we too slim. My high school basketball coach Thom Elniski encouraged me when I confided to him my basketball dreams and because of that I was able to have a 6 year professional basketball career. What we need to do in Edmonton is continue to challenge our players and look for ways to train them more dynamically and hopefully in the future we’ll have some Edmonton boys shaking hands with David Stern on Draft day.
What your favourite Sports or Basketball movie?
Andrew: My favorite Sports movie is Rudy, because I love an underdog story. Being from North Edmonton sometimes you feel like you have already been counted out. We are predominantly blue collar class, our population is divided between immigrants, very diverse families, and hard workers, and the story of Rudy really speaks to the character and will that can be brought out of a person if they just have faith and believe in the themselves. I love the part where the guys in the locker room go to the coaches office and hand in their jerseys so that Rudy could get a chance to play. That just reminds me of the loyalty that I was brought up on. You stand up for whats right and you look out for your fellow man.
My favorite basketball movie is a tie between He Got Game and Above the Rim. Tupac Shakur is my favorite rap artist of all time and I loved his role in Above the Rim. The street-ball court reminded me of Londonderry outdoor courts on the Northside. He Got Game is a classic father son, basketball movie. Definitely close to my heart and all of my M.E.Lazerte team mates loved that movie when we were in high school.
If Edmonton got an NBA team what would your suggestion for the name be?
Andrew: The Energy. (why mess with a good thing). What are some easy ways people can support Pride of the Northside, local basketball, and local basketball players? Andrew: People can support Pride of the Northside by checking out and sharing our social media sites
Or by sharing our website:
You can support local basketball in Edmonton by volunteering your time and effort to teams (of all levels) in the community. Whether you live in South, West, East, or North Edmonton, the city needs volunteers, coaches, referees, ambassadors and advocates. Whether it is posting an interesting link on your Facebook page, supporting events such as Pride of the Northside or participating yourself, take the extra step needed to help build basketball in the city.