In what could be one of the saddest news for the NBA community, the Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Sunders fell to Cancer on Sunday, at the age of 60. Saunders had previously announced about his treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. He was hopeful that the cancer was curable but later decided to sit out for the entire 2015-2016 season due to the disease.
ESPN notes that the mourning phase will take some time to gulp down the factor that the Timberwolves coach is no more. He was nothing more than a legend and had more than 1,000 victories over his 35-year coaching career.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement, “The NBA family is mourning today over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Flip Saunders … Flip’s untimely passing has left a gaping hole in the fabric of our league. Flip was a beloved figure around the NBA, nowhere more so than in Minnesota, demonstrating a genuine and consistent passion for his players, his team and the game. On behalf of the NBA, we offer our most sincere condolences to Flip’s wife, Debbie, their four children and the entire Minnesota Timberwolves organization.”
Even players took on the social media to express their grief in the memory of Saunders.
We are extremely saddened to learn today Phil “Flip” Saunders has passed away at age 60.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 25, 2015
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 25, 2015
Sad to hear that T'Wolves President and Head Coach Flip Saunders has passed away. Prayers go out to his family and friends.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 25, 2015
During his terrific run as a coach he gave us several moments to cherish. As we mourn his absence, we look at some of the best moments which marked his enormous contribution to Basketball.
Flip Saunders’ Terrific Record
“He was twice named head coach at the All-Star Game, both in the Eastern and Western Conferences,” according to Forbes and his impeccable record stands at 654-592.
He Created an MVP
Saunders became the head coach for the Timberwolves in 1996 and just a year later signed Kevin Garnett, who came straight from high school. He later went on to become one of the best and later an MVP.
Stint with Detroit
He was dropped by Minnesota in 2005 and then joined the Detroit Pistons. He took Detroit to the Conference Finals for all three seasons.
Saunders returned to the Wolves again in 2013 as the team president and went on to develop new young talents for the team.
His Rising Career
ESPN notes that he began his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1977 and “eventually rose up the ranks during seven seasons in the Continental Basketball Association, leading the La Crosse Catbirds to two league championships.”
Saunders as a Player
His coaching skills come from his own talents as a prep basketball star at Cuyahoga Heights High School and later become the State’s player of the year with an average of 32 points a game.
His Fan Following
Fans had a fondness for the coach as he would occasionally keep autograph cards for himself and distribute it among fans when he got the chance. He was a popular celebrity coach.