Flip Saunders, the only man to coach the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoffs, died on Sunday at 60.
Doctors diagnosed Saunders with Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this year. On Friday, the Timberwolves announced that their coach would miss the season. By Sunday, Saunders lost his fight.
Saunders compiled a 654-592 NBA head coaching record. Between runs in Minnesota, Saunders coached the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.
“Flip was a symbol of strength, compassion, and dignity for our organization,” Timberwolves GM Glen Taylor reflected in a statement. “He was a shining example of what a true leader should be, defined by his integrity and kindness to all he encountered. Today is not a day to reflect on Flip’s accomplishments in basketball or what he brought to us as an organization on the court, but rather to indicate what he meant to us as a co-worker, friend, member of the community and the basketball world at large. We as an organization are devastated by his passing, and our hearts and prayers go out to Debbie and the entire Saunders family as they endure this extraordinary loss.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mourned the loss.
“The NBA family is mourning today over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Flip Saunders,” Silver noted. “With more than 40 years around the game, 20 of them in the NBA, 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.”