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Salerno savouring National Basketball League of Canada (NBL) championship

Moncton Magic head coach Joe Salerno celebrates during Game 7 of the National Basketball League of Canada’s Eastern Conference Final. Mathieu Chiasson/Special to The Guardian
Moncton Magic head coach Joe Salerno celebrates during Game 7 of the National Basketball League of Canada’s Eastern Conference Final. Mathieu Chiasson/Special to The Guardian - Contributed

Former Storm bench boss wins title with Moncton Magic

MONCTON, N.B. —

Joe Salerno is a champion.

The National Basketball League of Canada’s all-time winningest coach accomplished the achievement Thursday in St. John’s, N.L., when his Moncton Magic won the league championship by sweeping the Edge in the best-of-seven final.

“It was everything I had hoped it would be,” Salerno said Tuesday. “It was a feeling of joy and of pride.”

The Salernos pose with the National Basketball League of Canada trophy. Joe Salerno is the head coach of the Moncton Magic, which recently won the final in St. John’s, N.L. With Joe are his wife, Darci Salerno, and their children, nine-year-old Camden and his six-year-old sister Alex. Jacinthe Leblanc/Special to The Guardian
The Salernos pose with the National Basketball League of Canada trophy. Joe Salerno is the head coach of the Moncton Magic, which recently won the final in St. John’s, N.L. With Joe are his wife, Darci Salerno, and their children, nine-year-old Camden and his six-year-old sister Alex. Jacinthe Leblanc/Special to The Guardian

Salerno began coaching in the league with the Summerside Storm in 2011-12 – the inaugural season of the circuit. He went to the 2013 final and lost in Game 4 of the best-of-five final to London.

The Storm moved to Charlottetown the following season and became the Island Storm. The team lost in Game 7 of the 2014 final to Windsor.

Salerno coached the Storm for three more seasons but was unable to get back to the final. His contract wasn’t renewed after the 2017 playoffs, but Salerno was hired by the Magic about six weeks later.

He said the Magic ownership, organization and community welcomed him and his family with open arms.

“Being able to help play a role in bringing a championship to this city and to its fans that have waited so long was really important to me,” he said.

Salerno said he and his family have received a ton of support from Prince Edward Island during and after his time with the Storm. Many reached out during the Magic’s playoff run.

“We made so many close family friends on P.E.I. during our time there. To know that those people have continued to support me and, again, my family really in our endeavour here to try to win this championship is a big deal,” he said.

“It’s kind of mind-blowing when you see people coming from P.E.I., driving over just for a regular season game and making sure they stick around to say hello after the game. It means a lot and it certainly lets me know that we reached a lot of people on P.E.I.”

Salerno said he hasn’t had time to fully reflect on the championship season. He is heading home to Vermont next week to spend a few days with his father and grandfather – both also named Joseph.

“I think that’s really when I will be able to kind of sit back and reflect on the season,” he said. “It certainly has started to settle in that, ‘Wow, we did this’ and it’s just a great feeling.”

The Magic’s championship squad had a bit of a Storm feel to it.

Head coach Joe Salerno and his Moncton Magic won the 2019 National Basketball League of Canada championship.
Head coach Joe Salerno and his Moncton Magic won the 2019 National Basketball League of Canada championship.

Mitchell Rowley was an assistant coach and equipment manager while the roster included Nick Evans, Wayne McCullough and Brad States – all three played for Salerno with the Storm.

Salerno, who is also the team’s general manager of player operations, said it is important to maintain relationships with players.

“You never know when those guys are going to be the right fit,” he said. “I think Wayne McCullough is a great example.”

McCullough played for Salerno in 2016-17 but was cut about 10 games into his rookie season. He played with the Storm in 2017-18 but was also cut. He made the Magic out of camp this season and played “phenomenal” in his role, Salerno said.

And the connection went deeper than former Storm players.

Reagh Vidito and Jeff Morrison were assistants with Salerno on the Island.

Vidito served as a scout for Salerno and has attended draft combines and training camp with the Magic. Morrison, who turns 24 later this week, and Salerno remained in contact with each other and Morrison’s eye for talent proved invaluable for the Magic this season.

“He had a big hand in kind of finding Trey Kell, who ended up being the most valuable player in the finals,” Salerno said. “You make connections wherever you are in this job, and I certainly made a lot of them during my time on P.E.I.”

Related links

Moncton Magic website

Boxscore from final game of National Basketball League of Canada championship series

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