Steve McKean, a San Jose State University graduate who was a pioneering professional basketball player in New Zealand and later coach of the New Zealand men’s team, has died. He was 77.
McKean’s death as a result of cancer was confirmed this morning by Basketball New Zealand.
"The Tall Blacks whānau is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the legendary Steve ‘Coach’ McKean," the Tall Blacks said in a statement.
"He led us to our first ever win over Australia in 1978. Coach played an instrumental role in so many players' lives. We send all our love to his wife Rachel and his family."
During his senior year in 1970 McKean played at San Jose State with later long-time ABA and NBA player Coby Dietrick.
He arrived in New Zealand soon after to join the Coca-Cola Club and later the Panmure club in Auckland, one of the first wave of American professionals in New Zealand.
McKean was coach of New Zealand's national men’s team from 1972-81 and was also the first coach to post 100 wins in New Zealand’s National Basketball League.
McKean was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012 for services to basketball and was inducted to the Basketball NZ Hall of Fame as part of the 2016 class.