Kevin Cadle: moving tributes to a basketball legend

Kevin Cadle (left) at a Solripe team reunion in 2012
Kevin Cadle (left) at a Solripe team reunion in 2012

Tributes have been pouring in for Kevin Cadle following the death of the legendary basketball coach earlier this week.

Among those to hail the impact of Cadle was Paul New, former Falkirk Herald sports editor and author of the authorised biography "The Cadle Will Rock".

He said: "As the old adage goes, appearances can be deceptive.

"When Kevin Cadle arrived on these shores and was introduced as the new coach of Falkirk’s basketball team, he came across as a mild-mannered, quiet-spoken individual.

"Just a couple of weeks later I saw another side of Kevin which shocked me - and most of his players - to the core.

"After his team had narrowly lost in the final of a pre-season tournament to arch-rivals Murray International Metals (Falkirk were still awaiting the arrival of new recruits at the time and so were under-strength) there was much back-slapping among the players who thought they had done well.

"Kevin had other ideas - and threw his runners-up trophy against the wall of the locker room, smashing it into pieces. And he told the players in no uncertain terms that as long as he was in charge, they would never settle for being second best again.

"That was the true warrior spirit coming out in Kevin, and it was this fierce competitive streak which enabled him to turn Falkirk from also-rans into, albeit briefly, the No.1 team in Scottish basketball, toppling MIM whose dominance had been unchallenged for years.

"It was over almost as soon as it had begun, with Kevin only staying with Falkirk for two years. But what a glorious rollercoaster ride for the legions of Falkirk fans!

"Yet Kevin’s success with Falkirk really was just the tip of the iceberg. I described Kevin in my biography of him as the Sir Alex Ferguson of British basketball, and I think that sums him up perfectly (sadly no knighthood for Kevin though).

"His motto throughout his life was “never accept good over best” and that served him well as he became the most successful coach in British basketball history, enjoying unrivalled success with Glasgow Rangers, Kingston, Guildford and London Towers, before going on to a second hugely successful career as the face of American sport on Sky.

"But it is the person I will remember more than Kevin the ultimate competitor - warm, funny, generous and someone who had time for everyone. He was just as comfortable chatting to a waiter in a restaurant as he was a superstar from the NBA or NFL.

"His humour was summed up in a story he told me about his arrival on these shores. His only other trip to Europe had been to communist Poland with a university team, and he was shocked to see empty shelves in the shops.

"Assuming he would be facing similar levels of deprivation in Scotland, he arrived from the US with a suitcase full of toilet rolls and other essentials which he thought would be hard to find here.

"Just one of the stories he recounted to me in our chats ahead of writing his biography which had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks. But today the tears are of a very different kind.

"Just a few weeks ago I suggested to Kevin that we should organised another Falkirk reunion (one was held at very short notice a few years ago) in 2019 to mark the 35th anniversary of Falkirk winning the Scottish Cup for the first time.

"He was really excited by the idea, and we agreed it was something we should do as none of us were getting any younger and some might not even be around if we left it much longer.

"How sad then that, if that reunion does go ahead then the man who made Falkirk’s success possible, and who put a smile on the faces of so many people, won’t be around to be a part of it."

John Bunyan, head coach of the current Falkirk Fury side, said: "Firstly I would like to pay tribute to Kevin as a coach and a person.

"Having met him on many occasions in his days at Falkirk he was a true gentleman, always had time for the fans and was well respected by his players. He was a dedicated individual who was as his record has shown, was one of the, if not the best basketball coach we have had in the UK.

"For him to start his career in Falkirk will always live with the people here, as Solripe can rightly be credited for making Falkirk such a great basketball town.

"Our club was borne out of what we saw at Solripe and Kevin and his best friend and star player – Bobby Kinzer exemplified all that is great in basketball.

"I personally want to express my condolences to his family and many friends and a lot of people connected to our club will deeply shocked and saddened by the news.

"My older son Keith, who has had many successes in the sport was a ball boy at Solripe and like many owes his time in basketball to a terrific club led by a truly legendary coach – Kevin Cadle.

"I can say 100 per cent basketball in Falkirk and Scotland would not be the success it has been had Kevin not been at Solripe. “