(WINDSOR, ON) – It’s official. The Windsor Express have been named Champions for the 2014-15 NBLC season. Normally, that would have been determined by winning enough games to prove their worthiness to be called Champions.
This year, however, The Express and the Halifax Rainmen played just six of seven scheduled games for the finals. The two teams were tied at three wins apiece with the seventh and deciding game slated for last evening in Windsor.
An hour prior to tipoff, Express president Dartis Willis received a phone call indicating that the Rainmen would not be playing. Word was that they had checked out of their hotel under the pretence that they feared for their safety. Rumours were that the Halifax squad had already flown back to the Atlantic coast.
“This is the worst day of my life, bro,” Halifax Rainmen owner Andre Levingston told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. “The game’s not happening. We left Windsor for safety reasons.”
The precipitation for the hasty departure was a melee that occurred early Thursday during a practice at the WFCU Arena. The Express were scheduled to take the court for warm-ups at 11:00 am while Halifax was due to arrive at 1:00 pm. The Rainmen were unhappy with the timeslot for their shoot around.
The Windsor players emerged from their dressing room to find the Rainmen already on the hardwood.
What should have been a simple solution of turning over the ball devolved into a brawl started, according to a number of accounts, by Halifax player Liam McMorrow, and the lights were shut off in the arena.
“It was a situation. If we felt our team was safe, we could have played,” Levingston continued. “Being that there’s uttered threats of people coming in to make sure we don’t leave the city safe, that’s another level.”
Windsor Police officers were at the WFCU Arena to provide a visual deterrence to another outbreak of hostilities in the event Game 7 was played.
In the absence of a commissioner, the NBLC has been operated by the board of governors. Late last night the board decided that the Express would be named champions due to forfeiture by Halifax.
“As a result of a forfeit, the Windsor Express have been declared 2015 NBL Canada champs,” the NBLC said by way of social media. “Congratulations to the Windsor Express organization on a great season!”
The board will now need to decide what, if any, repercussions there will be for Halifax’s repercussions.
“This is a black eye,” Levingston said. “There’s going to be consequences to this. I already know that. It could be a situation where the league tells me … you don’t deserve to be the in league. If that’s the case, I’ll stand by that.”