SPORTS

Windsor Express declared 2015 NBL champ after Halifax forfeits Game 7

04/30/2015 06:32 EDT | Updated 08/10/2015 09:59 EDT
The National Basketball League of Canada has declared the Windsor Express 2015 champions after the Halifax Rainmen forfeited Game 7 of the final, which was supposed to take place Thursday evening at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ont.

Initially the league said the game had been postponed after the Halifax Rainmen failed to show up to the game, which was supposed to start at 7 p.m. 

The NBL later posted on Facebook that "as a result of a forfeit, the Windsor Express have been declared 2015 NBL Canada champs! Congratulations to the Windsor Express organization on a great season!"

CBC's Aadel Haleem, who was courtside, said an hour before the game, the Rainmen were no where to be seen. 

The Windsor Express told CBC News there was a scuffle between the teams just before the Windsor Express morning shoot around, at about 11 a.m.

Gerry Brumpton, assistant coach, of the Windsor Express, said the Halifax Rainmen showed up too early for their scheduled for 1 p.m. shoot around. 

"Before we even got on the floor for our warm-up session in the morning ... there were some things that happened,"  Brumpton said. "Never in my 60 years of basketball in this city, I've never, ever been in a situation like this." 

"They snuck in here before they even had the light on," he said. "We were here in the dark, I opened up the curtain and I looked in and there they were. They were still here working out. So they had been here for a while. So then [Express head coach] Bill [Jones] tried to get a ball from the, from the big guy, and he wouldn't give it to him, so what ended up was an altercation." 

Brumpton said Bill Jones, the Windsor Express head coach, had tried to retrieve a basketball from one of the Rainmen players. He said when the player refused to hand the ball over, an altercation ensued.

'Black eye not just for league, but for basketball'

Point guard Tony Bennett was with coach Jones when the altercation happened. 

"There were some things said back and forth," he said. "It's an unfortunate situation, you have to be a professional...and that's just the end of it."

Bennet said he has never experienced an incident like this before in his professional career. 

"I was told [Halifax] players refused to come and play," Bennett said. "They didn't like the situation and what was said about some of their players. It's a black eye not just for the leagues, but for basketball, this is not supposed to happened in professional basketball." 

Point guard Gary Gibson said he's sad that the fans in Windsor didn't get to enjoy watching their home team play in the championship game.

"I feel a little disappointed," said Gibson. "I would like to win the old fashioned way ... play the game and may the best team win."   

Mayor Drew Dilkens who was at the WFCU for the game was also disappointed. 

"Halifax has played dirty all throughout the series, so certainly they shouldn't be the ones running away from Windsor," said Dilkens. "If anything Windsor should be afraid of them with the way they played both here and in Halifax."

Dikens said it was also disappointing to the fans who came to watch the two teams play. 

"Game 7, the final game, you don't fly here from Halifax and then take off an hour before the last game it's really unprofessional," said Dilkens. "We're quite happy to take a second Canadian championship through forfeiture if we have to, we hope that's the case." 

Halifax Rainmen release statement 

The Halifax Rainmen released a statement about what happened on the team's website Thursday evening. 

"Due to a physical altercation between the Halifax Rainmen and the Windsor Express the game has been canceled citing safety concerns for its players and coaches." 

"Today is truly a black eye for our league, when the games is not safe for players to compete there is a problem," Rainmen Owner Andre Levingston said in the release. "We have to do a better job of governing our league and putting principles in place where there are strict consequences."

Levingston states the incident will come with criticism, "but I'm hoping it serves as a wake up call that we the owners must do a better job. Again my sincere apologies to the entire Rainmen family and I hope that we can one day soon re-earn your trust."

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