By Tyrone Townsend, Staff Writer
Coach Flip Saunders, who has tallied more than 1,000 victories over 35 years in the NBA, died Sunday, Oct. 25 at the age of 60. He coached the Minnesota Timberwolves and Detroit Pistons.
Saunders, who was not expected to return to the Timberwolves this season, was hospitalized last month when his condition worsened. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in June and the doctors called it “treatable and curable” when the Timberwolves made the diagnosis public in August.
Saunders led the Timberwolves to eight straight playoff appearances from 1996-2004 before leaving for Detroit. There, he led the Pistons to three straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances.
After a three-year hiatus from the league following the 2011-12 season, Saunders returned to the team that he began his career with as both the head coach and the President of Basketball Operations.
His NBA teams have won 50 or more games in a season on several occasions, including a Pistons franchise record of 64 victories in 2005-06. He coached two NBA All-Star games and led Team USA to a gold medal in 2001.
Many would say that Saunders was a model standard coach for the NBA. He was certainly respected by the many players that he has both coached and coached against throughout the years and his presence on the NBA sidelines will be missed.