By John Denton
Aug. 10, 2017
ORLANDO – To understand how just much Anthony Parker enjoys a challenge you must first comprehend how his basketball talent was often overshadowed even within his own family and how he had to chase his hoop dreams all the way to Europe to make them a reality.
Parker, 42, is the older brother of collegiate legend and WNBA superstar Candace Parker, who at 31 years old is still easily the most accomplished and decorated member of the family that hailed from Naperville, Illinois. Also, his father (Larry) played college basketball at Iowa and his younger brother (Marcus) went on to become a doctor.
Anthony managed to make it to the NBA out of tiny Bradley University as a dead-eye 3-point shooter, but his path ran into a roadblock when he was suddenly bounced out of the league some 17 years ago and forced to head to Israel to continue playing professionally. This was about the time, mind you, that Candace was dunking in a high school game for the first time – as a 6-foot-4, 15-year-old sophomore.
How Parker responded to the challenge of being out of the NBA – becoming an unquestioned star in Europe for six years and later a steady NBA contributor for another six seasons – says a lot about the character and resolve of a man who is about to face his next basketball hurdle: Being a first-time GM of the Lakeland Magic of the NBA G League. Sure, it’s a job he’s never done before, but he welcomes the challenge ahead of building a successful franchise.
“We (Parkers) have always sought out a challenge,’’ Parker said on Wednesday at his introductory news conference in Lakeland. “It’s not about doing what you’re good at; it’s about trying to grow and get better at things where you’re not sure how they are going to work out. That’s what my parents tried to instill in us – not trying not to make mistakes, but learning from them. I’m sure I’ll make plenty of mistakes in this process, but I’m eager to learn from them.’’
It was that eager and humble mentality that made Parker a perfect fit for the job of putting together the roster for the Orlando Magic’s G League affiliate in Lakeland. A college and international scout the past five seasons with the Magic, Parker made quite an impression on President of basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and quickly became the obvious candidate to fill the G League GM position despite his relative lack of team-building experience.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Anthony while working through the draft and other parts of assembling the organization and he’s a very talented guy,’’ said Weltman, who took over in Orlando in late May. “He’s played in the league and he represents us the way we want to be represented. He has tremendous potential for growth and I think this is a great jump for him to take the lead on this and learn about what goes into putting a team together.’’