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Kenny McFadden - Rest In Love

25 / 03 / 2022

Wellington Saint Icon Passes Away.

As a franchise but more importantly as family we are devastated to announce the passing of legend and icon of our club Kenny McFadden.

Kenny was our first and greatest ever import arriving on our shores in 1982 winning 4 championships as a player and multiple more in the coaching staff over the past 40 years

Kenny was someone who touched the hearts of every basketball player in our city and devoted his life to helping everyone and anyone get better.

A smile that would light up any room and the mana that made you stop and listen.

After playing for Washington State University in the USA, McFadden moved to Wellington in 1982 where he enjoyed great success with the Saints.

He led the team to seven finals appearances, winning five NBL titles between 1982 to 1988.

Following his retirement in 1996, McFadden became heavily involved with junior player development, founding his own hoops academy in Wellington as well as coaching the Junior Tall Blacks to the under-19 World Championships in 2009.

In recent years, McFadden had battled ill-health.

In 2017, he was struck down by a serious kidney disease.

He was rushed to hospital with acute respiratory failure and while he managed to pull through following a night of "extreme medical intervention", he was subsequently diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic disorder.

For more than a year, he had to go to hospital three times a week to be hook up to a dialysis machine for a four and a half hours at a time.

But the charismatic coach was fortunate to be given a new lease on life when the father of one of his New Zealand Basketball Academy players, Aaron Tait-Jones, donated one of his kidneys to him late in 2019.

Jordan Mills, former player and general manager of the Wellington Saints, had known McFadden “since I can remember” when his father, Nick Mills brought him to Wellington from Washington State University in 1982.

“He was the first ever Saints import and the greatest ever Saints import,” Mills said.

McFadden immediately boosted the then Exchequer Saints team, propelling them to four national titles, Mills said.

“He took a struggling franchise and, in his first season, they won the second division and got promoted to the national league, they lost in the final in 83 and in 84 they won their first national title,” Mills said.

The team would go on to win the national titles in 1985, 1987 and 1988 with McFadden’s assistance either on the court or in a coaching capacity while injured.

“He was the heartbeat of all those championships,” Mills said.

Mills said he found it hard to put into words McFadden’s impact on the team and the game in New Zealand.

“He was an icon of our club and our sport but also an icon of the community. He could just connect to anyone, regardless of race, religion or gender he was able to get through to them,” Mills said.

Full Article from Stuff here