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Slam dunk

|Written By Jeffrey H. Waugh
Slam dunk

Stephen Parker is back at his desk, in the Edmonton office of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, after finishing up the season with the city’s newest professional basketball team, the Edmonton Chill.

The Chill recruited Parker when the team joined the International Basketball League in October 2007. Parker knew the owners and management of the freshly minted team, allowing him time to prepare before they began selecting players. “I had a heads-up that this was going to be taking place, and I trained all the past year, just getting ready,” says Parker. “They recognized that I still had some game left in me.”

The team did exceptionally well for its inaugural season. It placed third in the Western Division playoffs, having been beaten 129-101 in the second round by the Bellingham Slam on June 27. The Chill finished its first season with a record of 13 wins and nine losses.

Obviously, basketball isn’t new for Parker. He remembers first picking up the ball in Grade 7 and being involved in community and school teams from then on. “In high school I played on the Alberta provincial teams in addition to the high school teams,” he says. And it didn’t stop there. “Then I played five years at the University of Alberta.”

During his time at U of A, he also managed to get a bachelor of commerce and a law degree. “I had the opportunity to go play professional basketball over in Europe right after we won the national championships in 2002, but instead I went to law school,” says Parker.

After articling with Miller Thomson LLP, Parker was called to the bar of Alberta in 2006. He made the move to FMC in December 2007. A registered trademark agent, his main focus is on intellectual property, but, he adds, “as a younger associate things tend to flow onto my desk. . . . I’m getting experience in all areas right now.” His basketball tour and practice schedules meant some time away from the office, but Parker says the partners and other lawyers at FMC were very accommodating. “Several of them have come out to the games and showed their support that way.”

Rob McDonald, a partner with FMC and co-chairman of its national intellectual property group, says it was no surprise to him when Parker was selected for the team. “When it was announced that professional basketball was coming to Edmonton, I had no doubt that Steve would not only play but be an integral part of the team,” says McDonald. “It was also no surprise when Steve stepped up to a leadership role on the team, acting as a player/coach at one point in the season.”

Parker doesn’t try to hide the fact that his schedule doesn’t leave room for much else. Being a young associate is demanding. “You spend 10 hours at the desk here and then go play for two and a half hours and get home, hopefully by 10,” he says. When asked how he manages to make time for it all, he says, “You have to look hard to find it, I’ll tell you that much.” He admits that after taking some time off for road games in places like Chicago and Seattle, he’ll be spending the next little while making up for the missed work. The basketball season was “effectively my vacation time for this year,” says Parker.

Parker thinks keeping active on the basketball court makes him a more well-rounded individual. “You can’t be a one-trick pony, and playing basketball certainly has given me a lot of exposure and an opportunity to market myself as a lawyer.” The sense of competition that it fosters doesn’t hurt either. “I’m in the litigation department here, primarily, so I like to compete. Whatever it is I do, I like to excel,” he says.

McDonald says Parker has done well combining his life as a lawyer and involvement in a professional sports team. “Steve has successfully managed to balance his passion and talent for basketball with his legal career, and he has never given any less than his best effort, whether in court or on the court.”

So what’s next for Parker? His future with the Edmonton Chill isn’t set in stone. “I’ve received an offer to play on the team again next year, but I really am going to have to take a look at everything.” He recognizes the time commitment that it requires, and realizes he has some other passions he might like to pursue. And sometimes there just isn’t enough time to do it all. Even if he doesn’t continue basketball at a professional level, there’s no doubt he’ll still be found on the courts from time to time.

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