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Sky Walker Ronnie Joyner mourned

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New Zealand basketball is mourning one of its greatest American imports, Ronnie Joyner, who has died after suffering from cancer.

Joyner, who was based in Auckland, was in his early 60s.

The Washington State graduate - a 1.98m forward - was rated the New Zealand men’s basketball league (NBL) eighth best player of all-time in 2021, and was dubbed by Stuff basketball writer Marc Hinton as “Jumpin’ Joyner’’ and a “walking bucket’’.

Tennessee-born Joyner excelled in two junior college seasons at Cloud County Community College in Kansas, earning first-team JC All-America selection and become the all-time top scorer in Cloud County history.

Joyner was snapped up by NCAA powerhouse Washington State, playing 52 games for the Cougars between 1980 and 1982.

After missing selection in the 1982 NBA draft, Joyner came to New Zealand in 1984 to link with former Washington State teammate Kenny McFadden at the Wellington Saints.

The big man made made an immediate impact after joining as an injury replacement on the eve of the final series, helping the Saints win the NBL championship.

He spent the next four seasons in Auckland with Ponsonby, winning the most outstanding forward and scoring champion NBL awards, with 52.65 points per game, in 1985.

Joyner made back-to-back NBL All Star 5 teams in 1985 and 1986 and was league scoring champion five times (1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1998) with three different clubs.

He retired in 2001 after 291 games and a league-record 8828 career points and was ranked fifth all-time in career rebounds (2459).

Joyner’s journey included seven clubs - Saints, Ponsonby, Waikato Warriors, Auckland Cannons, Hutt Valley Lakers, Northland Suns and North Harbour Kings.

After retiring from basketball, Joyner worked for 18 years as a nursing care assistant in an acute mental health ward at Waitemata District Health.

Givealittle page set up last year to raise money for non-funded chemotherapy treatment stated Joyner had been battling stage four bowel cancer.

It described him as a “most caring, charismatic man’’ with “a heart of gold that would do anything for others”.

In the NBL’s 40 in 40 citation - published in 2021 to mark the league’s first 40 years - Hinton hailed Joyner as “a smooth mover with a killer jump-shot’’.

“Joyner had solid size, decent athleticism and a nose for the bucket, and continued to put up staggering numbers throughout a 17-year career… Remarkably, he averaged over 30 points a game over those 17 seasons.”

The 40 in 40 list was headed by Tall Blacks legend and current national coach Pero Cameron and McFadden - Joyner’s Washington State and Wellington Saints teammate - who died in 2022.