From Flint, Michigan to international glory: Thad McFadden is the Final 8 MVP
ATHENS (Greece) - Hereda San Pablo Burgos' Thad McFadden went all-round to become the first player with 15+ points, 5+ rebounds and 5+ assists in the Final of the Basketball Champions League, winning the MVP trophy as well.
McFadden had 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 23 minutes off the bench, leading Hereda San Pablo Burgos to an 85-74 win over AEK in OAKA. The point guard also scored 18 against Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem in the Quarter-Finals, and had 6 points and 3 steals in the convincing win over JDA Dijon in the Semi-Finals.
Thad was the star that Burgos needed to complete their unreal story, becoming a pro club in 2015 and climbing the top of the BCL mountain in 2020.
"Now everybody knows about Burgos," the MVP smiled.
"It's a funny story, because I remember when I went to Burgos for the first game, playing at Burgos. Unfortunately we lost that game, but I remember saying after the game, 'oh my God, the fans, the atmosphere, it's amazing. Like, one of the best I played in, if not the best.' And I remember my teammates saying, 'oh, you say all these good things, maybe you should just sign here.' The next year, I signed. That's God's will."
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The Final 8 was played without the fans in the stands, something that San Pablo Burgos players aren't all that used to. Because the team had 9,000 fans behind them already in the Qualifying Round, breaking all sorts of attendance records before the season was stopped in March.
"The city of Burgos... Win, lose, draw, we had terrible moments, and they are still behind us. Still supporting us. And it's still gonna be 10,000 (of them) in the gym. (Winning the BCL) is big. Not only for us, but for the supporters."
Similar to what Burgos did as a club, Thad McFadden did as a player. Going from lower ranks of European basketball to becoming a Georgian national team member and one of the hottest shooting guards in all competitions.
"We're true underdogs. When I first came to Europe, I played second division in Czech Republic, I was the only American there. Year after year, you hear that I'm the underdog. You can't do this, you can't do that. But I never listened. To be able to play in the second best national league in the world is special. ACB is a special league, I want to play there for years to come, and to be able to play in the best league in all of Europe and to win the Basketball Champions League now, it's special to me."
McFadden comes from Flint, Michigan. A place known for a lot of negative things, unfortunately, but also a place with some of the most amazing basketball players you've ever seen, all over the world.
"We all know, when we talk about Flint, a lot of people talk about the bad things. Like the violence, the water, the situation with not too many jobs available. But there's a lot of great things. Growing up in Flint has taught me a lot. Keep pushing in life, there's gonna be bumps and bruises. There's a lot of great players from Flint, Michigan that play in the NBA and also overseas, and I feel like we all have the same attitude: If you're not first, you're last. My city played a big part of me growing up as a basketball player."
Not losing a smile from his face, McFadden finally made it all the way to the end of the virtual press conference, and then simply pointed his finger to the phone, almost an hour after the game had finished.
"I gotta go. My wife is gonna kill me."
Family first. The real one, but also the basketball one, too. Because he emitted such energy and love for his teammates since day one of the Athens experience that it was impossible not to be happy for Thad. He's the MVP of the Final 8, after Marius Grigonis, Mike Green and Kevin Punter, the fourth different man to pick up the trophy in four seasons of the Basketball Champions League.