The National Basketball League of Canada handed out a raft of fines and suspensions Friday in the wake of a bizarre series of events that culminated in a rare forfeited championship game and caused widespread embarrassment to the fledgling league in the process.
Halifax Rainmen head coach Josep Claros was banned for life from coaching in the NBL while the franchise, coaching staff and players were fined a total of $90,000 for their actions on a day that was supposed to feature an exciting playoff finale. But instead it included a morning brawl, a desperate roadside plea from a league executive and a team no-showing Game 7.
When the dust settled, the Windsor Express successfully defended their title without even taking the court, and the league was saddled with the fallout from a black eye that may take a long time to heal.
“(The Rainmen) disregarded the owner’s demand that the game had to proceed, they disrespected our fans, they disrespected a city with the Windsor team,” said Vito Frijia, a member of the league’s executive committee. “The coach and the players decided unilaterally they were going to protest by not playing, which is totally unprofessional, and detrimental to the league, detrimental to our growing the league.”
The Rainmen decided not to play Thursday night at the WFCU Centre after an altercation during the morning shootarounds. The fight began after the Halifax players showed up earlier than their allotted time.
What allegedly started with an argument about basketballs escalated into a physical altercation and verbal threats, Frijia said.
The league’s board of governors voted unanimously to fine the Rainmen organization $20,000. Claros was slapped with a $10,000 fine plus the ban, while assistant Pedro Monteiro was fined $5,000 and also banned for life.
Eleven players — Chris Cayole, Clifford Clinkscales, Pedro Foster, Jermaine Dailey, Kevin Young, Seiya Ando, Liam McMorrow, Joel Haywood, Nigel Spikes, Forrest Fisher, and Tyrone Watson — were each fined $5,000 pending an investigation.
Windsor won the series 4-3 by default. The Express issued refunds to fans who had tickets to the game and plans for a victory celebration have been set for Sunday afternoon.
The eight-team league made its debut in 2011. It has been without a commissioner since Paul Riley’s departure was announced Feb. 6.