Kevin Cadle, who went from the streets of Buffalo’s East Side to become the winningest head coach in British pro basketball history and a beloved sports commentator on English television, died unexpectedly Monday in his home in England. He was 62.
From 1984 to 1997, he led teams to 30 titles and captured eight Coach of the Year awards with teams in Glasgow, Kingston, Guildford and London Towers. He won a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 1989-90 for “Most Successful Team Even in British Sport.” He also coached the Scottish and English national teams and coached Great Britain’s 1992 Olympic team.
From there he joined Sky Sports, the British equivalent of ESPN, first as an analyst for British basketball games, then for the NBA and NFL. He is credited with building the popularity of American pro football in England and Ireland.
“As the face of the sport in this country for so many years, Kevin brought warmth and fun to his role as the anchor of Sky Sports’ NFL coverage," his former Sky Sports colleague Neil Reynolds said. "The British public welcomed Kev into their living rooms every Sunday night as if he were a member of the family.”
A Buffalo Bills fan since he was boy, Mr. Cadle also never failed to display his loyalty to the team.
Born March 17, 1955, in Buffalo, he grew up on Southampton Street and cut through a friend’s yard to watch the Bills play in War Memorial Stadium. One season he got O. J. Simpson to sign an autograph every week.
He attended Bishop Ryan High School for two years, until it closed in 1971. That summer he was most valuable player in a basketball camp run by the Buffalo Braves and was invited to be a ball boy at their games, giving him a close-up look at stars such as Wilt Chamberlain.
After transferring to Baker-Victory High School, he was a first-team All-Western New York player in his senior year and won a basketball scholarship to Penn State University.
At Penn State, he was a part-time starter for four years under coach John Bach, a future assistant coach with champion Chicago Bulls teams. Attending graduate school at Texas A&I University, he was hired as assistant to the basketball coach and recruited the best player the college ever had, Ed Turner from Buffalo, who became an All-American.
He went to Angelo State University in Texas as assistant coach for four years, then got a call from Scotland. One of his Penn State roommates was playing pro basketball for the Falkirk team, which needed a coach, and recommended him to the owner.
“At that time I was trying for a lot of college positions in the U.S.,” he told Buffalo News sports reporter Greg Connors in 2013. “And everyone was coming back with that same line: Great resume, great references, but you need more experience. So I said I would go to Scotland for a year or two, get that head coaching experience, then see if I could come back to the college system.”
He never came back. He was voted Scottish Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1985, then went to England and became English Coach of the Year for six straight years, from 1987 to 1992, and again in 1996.
He went on to become a mainstay of Sky Sports’ broadcasts of the NBA and NFL until 2016.
Also popular as a motivational speaker, he published an autobiography, “The Cadle Will Rock,” in 2015.
Survivors include his wife, Lorraine, and a daughter, Toia.