Lightning Watch: Journalist accused of flagrant foul, kicked out of game

Game seven of the National Basketball League of Canada's semi-final series between the London Lightning and Windsor Express was supposed to be the biggest game of the year for everyone involved. The teams, the league and the fans. Windsor won the game 110-95 in front of over 2,500 fans at the WFCU Centre, to advance to the NBLC Final vs. the Island Storm. However, the game was the last thing on the mind for the many people that followed the NBLC after that night.

The London Free Press' Morris Dalla Costa has been the Lightning's only beat reporter over the past three years — he has always been there covering the team home and away. Naturally he was in Windsor for the big game, only to be removed from the building by the Express' owner Dartis Willis.

The reason? The Windsor Express organization thought he was writing detrimental things about the teams and the league. NBLC commissioner, Paul Riley, was on hand for the game and allowed the ejection.

Thanks to social media, the story exploded. By the time the game was over, the story had reached the Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC, Wall Street Journal and sports culture site Deadspin.

To add context, this league has never been mentioned by any of these publications on a national scale.

The Express and Riley claimed what Dalla Costa was doing was not journalism. However, Dalla Costa never claimed to be an out=and-out journalist, he's a columnist. He takes certain liberties with his articles that make it pretty clear he's not following a certain code of ethics.

Riley also made the case he taught journalism at Humber College, after a lengthy career in the field. In many columns written about the situation, writers attacked Riley saying if he had such a journalistic background he should know not to kick out a reporter.

To be fair, it's uncertain what the outcome of this removal would have been if it was someone lesser known than Morris. He's covered everything from the World Cup to the Olympics for the QMI Agency (a subsidiary of the Sun monopoly). So it's no surprise an organization like the Sun was first to hop on the story, and the rest is history.

The league's owners will meet at the end of this month to discuss what's next for the league. This will be a crucial meeting, being that London owner Vito Frijia has already called for Riley to resign.

With the Island Storm and Windsor Express finishing up the NBLC Finals soon, it could be the last games ever played in the history of the NBLC.

Marty Thompson is the play-by-play voice of the London Lightning for their livestream,