NBL Canada London Lightning Owner Vito Frijia voices his concerns and opinions.
Don’t know where to start with this one. Simply shocking, the events that have transpired over the last 48 hours in the upstart National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada). This is starting to feel a little like a (World Wrestling Entertaining) episode rather than what is supposed to be a terrific NBL Canada Finals series between the Windsor Express and PEI Island Storm in a best-of-seven series.
The good news is the league will finally crown a new champion, it’s first since it’s inception back in 2011 as the London Lightning finally were knocked off after back-to-back championships, paving the way for a new team to earn a a title in the nine-team league.
“We want it run professionally. We don’t want this type of garbage,” Frijia said.
He said he knows his position won’t be universally popular among the team owners.
“They will tell me I breached the conditions of the league” by releasing the documents, Frijia said. “And I’ll tell them to f— themselves.”
Mr. Frijia’s response comes out a day after NBL Canada commissioner Paul Riley issued a statement mentioning that the league supports the actions taken by Windsor Express owner Dartis Willis to effectively give the boot to London Lightning columnist Morris Dalla Costa who has been expressing his views for the London Free Press for over 30 years.
Also released were details of a private email exchange between Commissioner Paul Riley and rest of the team owners.
Here is Riley’s e-mail discussing the fallout:
“Guys, how exactly is any of this media attention bad for us? No one is saying our players aren’t great. No one is saying we do not provide great family entertainment.
“They are saying, “how dare you eject a reporter!!”
“They are saying, “Paul Riley is an ass . . . among other things.”
“The residual of this whole thing is that in the last 12 hours we have received more media coverage than in the history of the league.”
I guess as long as they are taking about you, it’s all good.
“Publicity is publicity” somebody once told me, but I’m willing to bet all parties associated with the National Basketball League of Canada would’ve rather see a positive image being portrayed about the league heading into the Championship series, instead we’ve got a media fiasco that will surely leave investors, sponsors and media wondering if the management/leadership really understand the true impact of this latest NBL Canada soap-opera.
One thing is for the sure, the games will go on, a new champion will be crowned and more questions will be asked, but the true damage may come in the form of the National Basketball League of Canada leaving the door open for other leagues looking to establish themselves as a “True” Canadian Basketball League and one who which actually gives more opportunities to Canadian players instead of limiting the exposure, especially at time where the abundance of Canadian players are flocking to Europe after completing their collegiate careers instead of having opportunities right here at home.
The league also has had hard time finding a stable commissioner with the position changing hands four times in less than four years starting with League President & Halifax Rainmen owner Andre Levingston (2011), John Kennedy (2012), Susan Gordon (2012) and now with Paul Riley (2013).
London Lightning guard Charles Boozer lives in his famous brother’s shadow
If you know anything about London Lightning guard Charles Boozer, it’s likely that he’s the younger brother of Carlos, the former NBA All-Star, Olympic gold medalist and Duke standout.
Carlos, by far the more famous of the two, played more than 800 NBA games with Cleveland, Utah, Chicago and the L.A. Lakers before retiring in 2015.
The younger Boozer showed flashes of promise in college at Iowa State, but suffered an ACL tear as a junior in 2010 and has bounced around minor leagues since then.
“He’s a combo guard who can set up his teammates and score,” his Carlos told the Chicago Tribune in 2014, when Charles played with the Windy City Bulls of the NBA G League.
“He’s a great defender, very athletic. And he has great wisdom.”
Now with London, at age 32, Charles will have what may be his final attempt at a sustainable pro career.
He was selected third overall in the 2018 National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC)’s Cape Breton Highlanders but reportedly pulled a muscle in the first week of training camp and was subsequently cut.
“We couldn’t see much of him, but he’s a great player,” Highlanders coach Bernardo Fitz-Gonzales told the Cape Breton Post at the time.
London coach Doug Plumb, a former star guard at the University of British Columbia, said the younger Boozer is now in the best shape of his life.
“Charles has worked extremely hard this off-season,” Plumb said in a statement.“He is a bigger powerful guard, can guard multiple positions on the court and has a versatile skill set.
“I’m looking forward to seeing his off-season work translate to the court and bring fire and tenacity every day.”
London has won four championships since the NBLC launched eight years ago, but exited in the first round of the playoffs last season.
They’ll rely in part on guard Xavier Moon, 2019 Player of the Year with the Edmonton Stingers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, to help them return to form.
As he always has, Charles Boozer will try to make his mark while answering questions about his more famous older brother.
“I’m excited to put on the Lightning uniform and help elevate the tradition of excellence,” he said in a statement. “It’s going to be a special season.”
Carl English amazing 58-point effort sets NBL Canada scoring record
The return of long time fan favorite Carl English to Canada was definitely a moment not to be slept on.
English whose story is well chronicled has had an outstanding 15-year professional career across the top international leagues. A veteran member of Canada Senior Men’s National Team he decided to bring it full circle and concluded his storied career in his hometown province of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
When news broke that he was returning home it also meant that those same East Coast supporters who grew-up watching a young skinny grade ten kid would also get another opportunity to watch him once again showcase his game. English went from dropping 50-point games in high school to becoming only the third player from Newfoundland to play division one NCAA basketball.
On Saturday night, against the visiting Kitchen Waterloo Titans and with March Madness in full swing, the now 37 year-old English, delighted the fans once more with an incredible 58-point career-high performance to set the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) scoring record. English connected on 17-of-33 shots, 13/14 free-throws and nailed an incredible 11-of-20 three-point attempts in 127-117 win at Mile One Centre.
The previous record was held by Moncton’s Devin Sweetney in 2013 against the defunct Montreal Jazz.
English currently leads the NBLC in scoring in scoring at 25 points per game, shooting 44% from the floor and 38.5 from the outside, he also averages 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and has the St. John Edge eyeing a deep playoff run and potential championship.
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