Minnesota head coach and team president Flip Saunders had been battling cancer for months now (that we knew of) and, unfortunately, that ugly disease has claimed another good man.
Phil “Flip” Saunders has passed away at the age of 60, the team announced on Sunday.
He had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (cancer of the immune system).
Saunders was one of the nicer and more open people around the league, a guy genuinely liked by nearly everyone. In my admittedly limited one-on-one interactions with him (at Summer League), he just made you feel comfortable talking to him. And he was honest.
Saunders coached 17 NBA seasons including three years with the Detroit Pistons where they reached the Eastern Conference Finals. He was a determined coach with a vast knowledge of the game to lean on.
He is best remembered as part of the Timberwolves, where he coached 11 of those seasons and helped build and coach some of the franchise’s most successful teams (including the young but talented roster they have now). He was part of the basketball culture in Minnesota, including hosting youth camps and often speaking to groups in the area.
His NBA coaching record was 654-592, but he had 35 total years of coaching experience.
He is survived by his wife and three daughters, as well as his son Ryan, an assistant coach with the Timberwolves.
Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.