The London Lightning has been a proud member of the National Basketball League of Canada since its inaugural season in 2011. The team is owned by Vito Frijia, a prosperous business owner in Southwestern Ontario and past President of the NBL of Canada. The Lightning plays its home games at Budweiser Gardens.
The Lightning name was announced on August 12, 2011. On August 17, Micheal Ray Richardson former NBA all-star was announced as the Lightning's head coach. Under Richardson’s leadership the Lightning would go on to win the 2012 NBL championship, defeating the Halifax Rainmen 116-92 in game five of the championship series.
The Lightning won the league championship for the second season in a row by defeating the Summerside Storm 87-80 in 2013. The series was won 3-1.
In season three, Richardson led the Lightning to the conference finals, where they fell short to the Windsor Express in game seven. The Windsor Express would go on to win the championship.
In the summer of 2014, the Lightning announced that Micheal Ray Richardson would be leaving the organization. The Lightning went on to announce the new head coach, Carlos Knox, in July 2014.
In 2014/15, although the team saw tremendous success in the stands and in the community, the Lightning were eliminated by the Brampton A's in the first round of the playoffs.
In August 2015, former London Lightning player and previous Mississauga Power coach Kyle Julius was named as the franchise's third head coach. Throughout the 2015/16 season, the Lightning drew the league's highest attendance numbers and started the season with a 12-2 record. The Lightning finished the season as the Central Division Champions at 26-14. During the payoffs, the London Lightning made it to the Finals, but ultimately lost in a hard fought Game 7 to the Halifax Hurricanes.
After a few years without a championship the Lightning bounced back in it's sixth season in the NBL. After a rocky start to the season at 3-3 the team went on to shatter league and team records and won the 2016-17 Championship over the Halifax Hurricanes at home in game 6 of the finals. They became the winning-est team in NBL-C history with a record of 46-7. The Lightning were awarded regular season MVP, Playoff MVP, multiple All-Star awards and Kyle Julius was awarded Coach of the Year. Coach Julius has since left the Lightning organization to pursue other opportunities
In Summer of 2017 the Lightning announced Keith Vassell as the fourth head coach of the club. Vassell has a long standing history in Canada basketball. He played five years at Brandon University in Winnipeg where he was named player of the year after the Bobcats won the CIS Championship and was a member of CIS all-star teams each year. He was a member of Canada's Men's National team for 11 years while also playing over seas for 11 years in places such as Iceland, Portugal, Switzerland and more. Vassell's most recent coaching jobs saw him at Niagara College of the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) and as the interim head coach for the Niagara River Lions (NBL) in the second half of the 2016-17 season.
In the team's seventh season, the Lightning claimed their fourth NBL League championship title in the final playoff round against the Halifax Hurricanes. The Lightning is the only team in NBL history to win the championship four times, both in back to back wins. The final round was a tough battle against the Halifax Hurricanes, with the Lightning winning 4 games to 3. The season wrapped with Lightning player Garrett Williamson being named Playoff MVP and with multiple player All-Stars awards and Coach Vassell being recognized as coach of the month for January 2018.
The Lightning franchise along with the NBL of Canada are putting basketball on the Canadian map and are gaining recognition from around the world as a premier team in a premier league that demonstrates high level basketball as a viable option for professional athletes looking to further their careers.
NBL Canada is a professional men's basketball league giving players a chance to play basketball professionally and develop their talents. The NBL Canada features a high level of competitive basketball that rivals any other professional league in the world. The National Basketball League of Canada features teams in London, Niagara, Windsor, Kitchener/Waterloo, Charlottetown, Halifax, Moncton, Saint John and Cape Breton. NBL players have been recruited from NCAA, AAU, CIS, OCAA and more!