Sunday, October 25, 2015
R.I.P Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders dies of cancer at age 60
Flip Saunders, who tallied more than 1,000 victories over a 35-year coaching career that included successful stops with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons, died Sunday of cancer at age 60.
He also coached the Washington Wizards during a career that spanned 17 seasons as an NBA head coach and included 654 victories.
Saunders announced in August that he was being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Doctors considered it "very treatable and curable," and Saunders at the time said he planned to remain the Timberwolves' head coach and president of basketball operations. However, he was hospitalized following a setback in September, and it was announced Friday that Saunders would miss the entire 2015-16 season.
Saunders first became an NBA coach in 1996 with the Timberwolves and eventually led the team to eight straight playoff appearances. A standout offensive coach, Saunders specialized in coaching point guards. But perhaps the player he had the greatest impact on was a big man, a wiry kid who came straight from high school in 1995 named Kevin Garnett. Under Saunders' tutelage, Garnett developed into one of the best players in the NBA and eventually an MVP.
After being fired by Minnesota in 2005, Saunders was hired by the Pistons the next season and took Detroit to the conference finals for all three seasons he was on the sideline.
Saunders, after a three-year stint with the Wizards, returned to the Wolves in 2013 after eight years away as team president and part owner. In 2014 he took over again as coach. He was in the process of a major rebuilding effort following the trade of Kevin Love that included the acquisition of Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, engineering the return of Garnett to mentor young players, the construction of a new downtown practice facility and a renovation of the Target Center.
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