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Who is this guy?


Curtis J. Phillips
Canada's Basketball Historian

Curtis is certainly a great help to basketball in Canada. I wish him continued success in his pursuit to promote basketball." Jack Donohue. The late great dean of Canadian hoops  

"The basketball guy from Canada." Alex Sachare former NBA media head and dean of basketball journalists.

Since 1982, Curtis J. Phillips, be it for print or electronic mediums, has been telling you the stories of Fort McMurray, Alberta  residents. It is a daily passion to promote and cover the people and sports of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Maybe it’s time to tell you a bit about him.

The sport of basketball has remained the one constant in  Phillips’ life and career. It was in the 1970s', a few years after graduating high school, where he was a provincial all-star on the No. 2 ranked team in Canada, that he returned to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

He had just spent a year traveling the U.S. of A. in search of some asphalt court action ala White Men Can't Jump..

On the urging of Basketball Manitoba, he started writing and editing a monthly publication titled "Hoop Scoop". To his surprise and delight, several of the articles were picked up by national and international publications including the National Basketball Association.

In 1982 it was off to the oilsands capital of the world - Fort McMurray, Alberta - to take on the role of sports/entertainment editor at the daily newspaper.

He continues to write a weekly sports column for the Today.

Within his first three months in town he had organized two basketball clinics, was elected president of the Fort McMurray Basketball Association and landed the hosting of 1983 Western Senior Men's Basketball Championships.

A go-getter, he never looked back...setting a personal mandate to which holds true to this day, to volunteer a minimum of 20 hours per week towards the community.

The 1990s would find him in the role of program director for the local television station. From 1982-1991 he had volunteered at the station to announce local sporting events.

During his TV ventures, he spearheaded several sporting productions that gained national acclaim. They included the 1992 Alberta Winter Games which to this day remain the largest community station telecast with 12 companies and more than 280 volunteers.

He also found time to mix hoops and television with producer/host credit for a provincial show titled "Basketball Alberta Focus."

In 2000 it was back to the world of freelance with the summers spent administrating and coaching hoops at the Legion Athletic Camp, an international non-profit multi sport summer camp founded and still under the direction of his father George Phillips. More than 1,200 athletes attend each summer.

Aside from hoops and family, the volunteer bug always seems to be biting.

Not one to sit on his laurels, Phillips is a founding member or founding father of numerous events, organizations, awards etc.

They include the Challenge Cup, Alberta Athlete of the Year, Alberta Coach of the Year, Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and most recently the C.J. Phillips Frozen Hoops Junjior High All Star Game.

He has also rejuvenated several events and organizations that had gone by the wayside, including Blueberry Festival and the Fort McMurray Basketball Association.

His peers have recognized this commitment to the community and province, with Coach of the Year , Volunteer of the Year distinction and a national "Above and Beyond" recognition. But by far the highest tribute for Phillips was the Father of the Year honour bestowed.

Recently he was honured with the inaugural C.A.P. award given by the Royal Canadian Legion Sports Foundation to an individual who has gone above and beyond in their chosen sport as a Coach, Athlete and Promoter on the local, national and international scenes..

He lives by the adage of “if what you did yesterday looks good to you today...then you have done nothing today.”

Phillips s also the first to state that it “is and always will be a team effort in making these projects and events a reality.”

He continues to be involved in all levels of hoops be it as a coach, player, organizer or cheerleader.

Noting that history can be fickle, he has become a basketball historian of sorts with works published in encyclopaedias and used by the NBA, FIBA and Basketball Canada.

He also created this website www.frozenhoops.com, ranked Canada's No.2 visited basketball website.

A true Basketball Junkie, his love for the sport has been featured in national publications and even network television in the USA.

Aside from basketball his interests are varied and he is always at the forefront when promoting Fort McMurray and the region.

Of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, named in 1997, he has had the rare fortuity of meeting 33 of them to date.

So, for a 11 year-old kid who used to listen to NBA games on short-wave radio while lining up his basketball sport cards on a basketball court diagrammed out on a piece of cardboard, it proves that dreams do come true

He presently is working on three books: "Frozen Hoops: the Top 150 Canadian Basketball Players of All time", "Silver Slams: Basketball at the Movies" and "Our Namesake: William McMurray."


Top 10 Basketball Moments

10: Teamed two-on-two with Canadian hoop legend Eli Pasquale against a Larry Bird and Magic Johnson life-size cardboard cutout to the tune of "Sweet Georgia Brown" in front of a TV camera crew at fanfare festivities at the 1985 NBA All-Star game. Was later shown nationally on USA television.

9: Shooting hoops in a pickup game against NBA Hall of famer and leapin'  legend David "Skywalker" Thompson. Stealing the ball from him and minutes later having him dunk it in my face with a Wilson lace. Most spectacular move I have ever seen anyone do on the same court that I was on.

8: Beating a couple of Vancouver Grizzlies players in a game of H-O-R-S-E and trading trick shots with the Harlem Globetrotters. Also was the unofficial ballboy - at the age of 35 - for the L.A. Lakers at an NBA exhibition game. This was the most nerve wrecking time on the hardwood ever! Also lucked out by hitting six for seven three-pointers in the second half against the Edmonton Eskimos in a charity game. Winning 3-point competitions in both Canada and the USA.

7: Finding a pair of sneakers to fit Julius "Dr. J." Erving, who had lost his luggage enroute to NBA exhibition game in Canada. Too bad my shoe size is only 12!

6: Munching on popcorn with Charles Barkley when he was the real Round Mound of Rebound. At the 1983 Universiade.

5: Having Dominique Wilkins showcase the "Human Highlight" film while landing on top of me at courtside and then patting me on the head to make sure I was O.K.

4: Losing a bet - $20 - to Larry Bird on how many 3-pointers he could make during warmup.

3: Winning a Manitoba city/provincial high school championship and making provincial all-star. Also later playing on the blacktops in the USA ala "White Men Can't Jump."   (Phillips also reached city or provincial status in four other sports. "A Jack of All Sports but a Master of None.")

2: Coaching hoops with the last few years focused at the Legion Athletic Camp and with native youth in northern Alberta.

1: When my son was born in 1985, the late great Coach Jack Donohue sent out a letter inviting him to a national tryout camp for the year 2005.

Here are a Few of My Favourite Things:


Hero: My father George Phillips

Athlete: Wilt Chamberlain

Sports Team: Los Angeles Lakers

Favourite Number: No. 13 (Wilt's)

Favourite Team Ever Played On: Was captain of senior men's Team Xerox (1986-87). Featured former university players John Randa, Eastern Washington; Wes Herbert, Winnipeg; Eric Skinner, Acadia; Terry Ayers, Alberta; Chris Kalnay, Ottawa  and Algis Grajuaskas, Western.

Current Fav NBA Player: Steve Nash and Shaq

Current Disliked NBA Player: Latrell Sprewell and Stephon Marbury

Book: Guiness Book of World Records

Movie: Zulu or Dark Star

Actor: Jerry Lewis

Actress: Raquel Welch

Most Interesting Person: Howard Hughes

Television Series: The White Shadow

Place: Legion Athletic Camp

Food: Shrimp

Drink: Budweiser

Candy: Macaroons

Song: YMCA by Village People

Singer: Aaron Neville

Basketball Movie: Hoosiers








My late mom's favourite picture
Me and my twin sis Kathleen at age 11

The Joy of Basketball