Breaking NBA Pro Basketball News 10-25-2015—Flip Saunders Passes Away
On Sunday morning October 25th the NBA community awoke with some sad news as Minnesota Timberwolves President and head coach Flip Saunders passed away at the age of 60. Saunders bravely fought cancer as he was diagnosed in late August with Hodgin’s lymphoma. At the time the doctors had positive news claiming it was curable. He suffered some serious setback from the disease that forced his hospitalization in September that led to his eventual death.
Saunders coached the Minnesota Timberwolves during their only successful era from 1995-2005. He led the Timberwolves to the playoffs in eight of his ten years at the position. Unfortunately Saunders did not have playoff success as the team suffered a first round exit in seven straight post season appearances. They broke through in the 2003-4 season as they made it as far as the conference finals where they would eventually lose to the LA Lakers in a six game series. Unfortunately the Timberwolves could not follow up with that success as the team had trouble signing the supporting cast around Kevin Garnett. The following year the Timberwolves began 25-26 and fired Saunders.
He resurfaced with the Detroit Pistons from the 2005-2008 seasons where he led the team to three straight conference finals but was unable to make an NBA Finals appearance in those three seasons. He then spent three years trying to rebuild a very down Washington Wizards franchise but was fired into his third year with the club as he sported a 2-15 record. Last season he coached the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 16-66 record which was the worst in the league. But the club has shown some promise with a successful draft and appears to be building for a successful future.
Flip Saunders grew up in Cleveland Ohio. In high school he was the player of the year for the state of Ohio in 1973. He played his college basketball at the University of Minnesota playing alongside future NBA greats in Mychal Thompson and Kevin McHale.
Following his college basketball playing days he immediate went into coaching landing his first job at Golden Valley Lutheran College where he served until the 1981 season. He spent time as an assistant at his alma mater Minnesota for five years and a couple of years at Tulsa. He then moved to professional basketball in 1988 in the CBA where he worked his way up to the head coach of Minnesota Timberwolves.