Decades of Hoops on MDI

MOUNT DESERT — A sense of the spirit of Mount Desert Island basketball legend Bernard “Bunny” Parady, ran strong in hearts and minds of many who attended “Hoops Around the Island: Basketball on MDI” sponsored by the MDI Historical Society April 16.

The history of basketball on MDI was the focus of discussion at the Somesville Fire Station. The evening featured star basketball players spanning a time frame almost as long as the game has existed.

Dr. Bill Baker, sports historian and professor of history at the University of Maine at Orono, opened the night with a recap of the history of basketball from its inception through the 1950s. Dr. Baker proposed that the core components of basketball with it’s small team, low equipment requirement, and small space requirements fit perfectly into the realm of small-town America. This made it especially appealing to the small communities such as the ones that exist here on MDI.

Jack Gilley was a Pemetic Indian in the 1950’s. Mr. Gilley’s father was on one of the first island teams to achieve success at the state level in 1922. There were no divisions then so all teams played against each other no matter what the size. The Pemetic Indians played Jonesport-Beals for the state championship and lost in double overtime.

There was one player Mr. Gilley mentioned right off the bat. “We had Bunny Parady on our team and he was something else. An outstanding ball player.”

Steve Parady, son of Bunny Parady, has been immersed in basketball as long as he can remember. “It is hard for me to separate my memories of when I first was interested and when I played versus what was my life at home,” Mr. Parady said. He said he grew up in a home where his father “lived basketball 24 hours a day all year round.”

Toward the end of the night, talk turned inevitably to “Bunny” Parady. The sentiments ran deep about the man and the lessons he taught through the game of basketball.

John Walls, former assistant principal at Mount Desert Island High School, said, “That man’s influence on basketball on this island is just unbelievable. He would have loved this tonight.”

For more sports stories, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.


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