Flip Saunders

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Flip Saunders
Flip Saunders.jpg
Saunders coaching the Washington Wizards in 2011
Personal information
Born(1955-02-23)February 23, 1955
Cleveland, Ohio
DiedOctober 25, 2015(2015-10-25) (aged 60)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
NationalityAmerican
Listed height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Listed weight175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
High school Cuyahoga Heights
(Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio)
College Minnesota (1973–1977)
Coaching career1977–2015
Career history
As coach:
1977–1981 Golden Valley Lutheran
1981–1986 U. of Minnesota (assistant)
1986–1988 Tulsa (assistant)
1988–1989 Rapid City Thrillers
1989–1994 La Crosse Catbirds
1994–1995 Sioux Falls Skyforce
19952005 Minnesota Timberwolves
20052008 Detroit Pistons
20092012 Washington Wizards
2014–2015 Minnesota Timberwolves
Career highlights and awards

Philip Daniel "Flip" Saunders [1] (February 23, 1955 – October 25, 2015) was an American basketball player and coach. During his career, he coached the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, and Washington Wizards. [2]

Minnesota Timberwolves professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association

The Minnesota Timberwolves are an American professional basketball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Western Conference Northwest Division. Founded in 1989, the team is owned by Glen Taylor who also owns the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. The Timberwolves play their home games at Target Center, their home since 1990.

Detroit Pistons professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association

The Detroit Pistons are an American professional basketball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Pistons compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division and plays its home games at Little Caesars Arena. The team was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana as the Fort Wayne (Zollner) Pistons in 1941, a member of the National Basketball League (NBL) where it won two NBL championships: in 1944 and 1945. The Pistons later joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA) in 1948. The NBL and BAA merged to become the NBA in 1949, and the Pistons became part of the merged league. Since moving to Detroit in 1957, the Pistons have won three NBA championships: in 1989, 1990 and 2004.

Washington Wizards professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association

The Washington Wizards are an American professional basketball team based in Washington, D.C. The Wizards compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Southeast Division. The team plays its home games at the Capital One Arena, in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Contents

High school and college player

Saunders was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He was an All-state basketball player at Cuyahoga Heights High School in suburban Cleveland. [3] In his senior season, 1973, he was named Ohio's Class A High School Basketball Player of the Year, leading the state in scoring average with 32.0 points per game. [3] At the University of Minnesota, he started 101 of his 103 career contests and as a senior, teamed with Ray Williams, Mychal Thompson, Kevin McHale, and Osborne Lockhart.

Cuyahoga Heights High School is a public high school located in Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio, United States. It serves the villages of Cuyahoga Heights, Valley View, and Brooklyn Heights. It is a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio Village in Ohio, United States

Cuyahoga Heights is a village in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States. The population was 638 at the 2010 census.

University of Minnesota public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses are approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) apart, and the St. Paul campus is actually in neighboring Falcon Heights. It is the oldest and largest campus within the University of Minnesota system and has the sixth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 50,943 students in 2018-19. The university is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota system, and is organized into 19 colleges and schools, with sister campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester.

Coaching career

College

Saunders began his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College where he compiled a 92–13 record, including a perfect 56–0 mark at home, in four seasons. In 1981, he became an assistant coach at his alma mater, Minnesota, and helped guide the Golden Gophers to the Big Ten championship that season. After five seasons at Minnesota, he became an assistant coach at the University of Tulsa where he worked for two seasons before heading to the pro ranks.

Golden Valley Lutheran College was founded as the Lutheran Bible Institute. The LBI was a two-year degree-granting Lutheran educational institution established in 1919 in St. Paul, Minnesota. It moved to Minneapolis in 1929 and then to Golden Valley, Minnesota in 1961. It opened Lutheran Bible Institute of Seattle in 1944, now Trinity Lutheran College, a four-year degree-granting institution.

Big Ten Conference American collegiate athletics conference

The Big Ten Conference is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States, based in suburban Chicago, Illinois. Despite its name, the conference consists of 14 members. They compete in the NCAA Division I; its football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, the highest level of NCAA competition in that sport. The conference includes the flagship public university in each of 11 states stretching from New Jersey to Nebraska, as well as two additional public land grant schools and a private university.

University of Tulsa

The University of Tulsa (TU) is a private research university located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States. The University of Tulsa is renowned for its undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across a number of disciplines, including law, literature, computer science, natural sciences, psychology, and engineering. Its faculty includes prominent scholars, scientists, and writers. TU has a historic affiliation with the Presbyterian Church and the campus architectural style is predominantly Collegiate Gothic. The University of Tulsa has been recognized as one of the five most international universities in the United States, by undergraduate enrollment.

Rapid City, La Crosse, and Sioux Falls (CBA)

Saunders became the coach of the Rapid City Thrillers of the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) in the 1988–89 season, where future Kings and Warriors head coach Eric Musselman served as the team's general manager. Musselman's father, Bill Musselman, had recruited Flip when Bill was head coach at the University of Minnesota.[ citation needed ]

Rapid City Thrillers basketball team

The Rapid City Thrillers were a semi-professional basketball team in Rapid City, South Dakota, that competed in the Continental Basketball Association beginning in the 1987 season. They were reincarnated in 1998 as an International Basketball Association franchise. One of the many notable players of the team was Keith Smart, who played for the Indiana Hoosiers when they won the NCAA tournament in 1987.

Continental Basketball Association Defunct mens basketball minor league

The Continental Basketball Association (CBA) was a professional men's basketball minor league in the United States. For most of its existence the CBA was the second-tier of men's professional basketball in the United States behind the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA formed a working agreement to develop players and referees in the CBA during the 1980s. Until the NBA formed the National Basketball Development League in 2001, the CBA served as the official minor league to the NBA.

Eric Patrick Musselman is an American basketball coach, who is the current head coach at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the former head coach of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Between head coaching stints at Golden State and Sacramento, Musselman served as an assistant for the Memphis Grizzlies under Mike Fratello. He moved to the college coaching ranks in 2012 as an assistant at Arizona State. The son of former NBA head coach Bill Musselman, Eric Musselman was a head coach in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before becoming an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, and Atlanta Hawks.

Saunders then later moved to the La Crosse Catbirds for five seasons (1989–94), where he won two CBA Championships, before coaching in 1994–95 with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He also served as general manager (1991–93) and team president (1991–94) of the Catbirds. Saunders' impressive CBA tenure included seven consecutive seasons of 30 or more victories, two CBA championships (1990, 1992), two CBA Coach of the Year honors (1989, 1992) and 23 CBA-to-NBA player promotions.

The La Crosse Catbirds was an American basketball team based in La Crosse, Wisconsin and member of the Continental Basketball Association. The Catbirds were the 1990 and 1992 CBA champions. The team moved to La Crosse from Louisville in 1985, and left La Crosse for Pittsburgh in May 1994. La Crosse would see the CBA return in 1995 when the La Crosse Bobcats took to the court.

Sioux Falls Skyforce professional basketball team based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States

The Sioux Falls Skyforce are an American professional basketball team that plays in the NBA G League. They are based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and currently play at Heritage Court in the Sanford Pentagon, a place they have called home since the 2013–14 season. The Skyforce began in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) in 1989. They played their home games at Sioux Falls Arena from then until the move to the Pentagon in 2013. They participated in four CBA championship finals, winning the championship trophy in 1996 and 2005.

Saunders would leave after seven productive seasons as a head coach in the CBA, where he ranks second with 253 career victories.

Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA)

Saunders joined the Minnesota Timberwolves of the National Basketball Association (NBA) on May 11, 1995 as general manager, working under his former Minnesota teammate, Kevin McHale. On December 18, 1995, Saunders was named head coach of the Timberwolves, replacing Bill Blair.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a men's professional basketball league in North America; composed of 30 teams. It is widely considered to be the premier men's professional basketball league in the world. The NBA is an active member of USA Basketball (USAB), which is recognized by FIBA as the national governing body for basketball in the United States. The NBA is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. NBA players are the world's best paid athletes by average annual salary per player.

A general manager is an executive who has overall responsibility for managing both the revenue and cost elements of a company's income statement, known as profit & loss (P&L) responsibility. A general manager usually oversees most or all of the firm's marketing and sales functions as well as the day-to-day operations of the business. Frequently, the general manager is responsible for effective planning, delegating, coordinating, staffing, organizing, and decision making to attain desirable profit making results for an organization.

Kevin McHale (basketball) American basketball player

Kevin Edward McHale is an American retired basketball player who played his entire professional career for the Boston Celtics. He is a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, and is regarded as one of the best power forwards of all time. He was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

This happened shortly after McHale had taken over the basketball operations for the Timberwolves. He then added the coaching duties to his GM responsibilities after the team had gotten off to a 6–14 start. The Timberwolves went 20–42 the rest of the year, but the emergence of young Kevin Garnett as a front-line NBA player was a huge plus over the second half of the season.

He guided with difficulty the Timberwolves to their first-ever playoff berth in the 1996–97 season, his first full season as an NBA head coach. A year later, he led the Timberwolves to their first-ever winning season. They went on to a franchise-record 50 victories in 1999–2000 which was duplicated in 2001–2002.

After the Timberwolves' success in the 2003–04 NBA season, in which they won their first (and to date, only) division title and advanced to the Western Conference Finals, they struggled in the 2004–05 season. On February 12, 2005, McHale fired Saunders and named himself head coach for the rest of the season. McHale was unable to right the ship, and the Wolves missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Many fans believed that Saunders' firing was unwarranted, citing instead the contract troubles of Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell as the reasons for the team's failure. However, many also acknowledged that Saunders had coached ten years in Minnesota, and perhaps a new voice was needed.

Detroit Pistons (NBA)

Saunders replaced Larry Brown as coach of the Detroit Pistons on July 21, 2005. [4] Under Saunders, the team set a new franchise record for wins during the regular season, finishing with a 64–18 record. Saunders coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2006 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, Texas.

Saunders led the Pistons to three consecutive Central Division titles and three consecutive appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals. Upon entering his third season as Pistons coach, Saunders became the longest-tenured Pistons coach since Chuck Daly's nine-year tenure (1983–1992).

Saunders was fired June 3, 2008 after the Pistons lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals; Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said the team needed a "new voice". [5]

Washington Wizards (NBA)

On April 14, 2009, Saunders reached an agreement to become the new coach of the Washington Wizards. [6] [7] The deal was reportedly worth $18 million over 4 years.

On January 24, 2012, Saunders was fired as the coach of the Wizards. Replaced by former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Randy Wittman, Saunders departed the Wizards with a record of 51–130. [8]

Second stint with Minnesota Timberwolves

On June 6, 2014, Saunders was named the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, returning to the franchise for a second stint. [9] During his second stint with the Timberwolves, Saunders was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. As a result, during his recovery, he would delegate his coaching position over to assistant coach and former NBA Coach of the Year winner Sam Mitchell. His 427 wins during parts of ten seasons in two stints are far and away the most in franchise history, and until the 2017-18 season he was the only coach to lead the Timberwolves to a winning season or coach a playoff game.

Career as an executive

Boston Celtics (NBA)

On April 29, 2012, Saunders joined the Boston Celtics as an advisor.

Return to Timberwolves

On May 3, 2013, Saunders was named the Timberwolves' President of Basketball Operations. On June 5, 2014, Saunders was named head coach as well. [10] During his recovery from Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he would delegate his duties within the front office to the team's general manager Milt Newton.

Personal life

Saunders and his wife Debbie [11] had four children. Their son, Ryan, was a 6-foot-1 guard for the University of Minnesota, Flip’s alma mater, and later became an NBA assistant coach for the Wizards and Wolves, and the head coach of the Wolves. His daughter, Mindy also attended the University of Minnesota and was a member of the dance team. [12] Flip's twin daughters, Kim and Rachel, also attended the University of Minnesota. Together, they danced on the University of Minnesota Dance Team for 4 years - winning 8 national championships and a World Championship. [13]

According to Saunders, he was about 20 yards (18 m) (60 feet) away from the I-35W Mississippi River bridge collapse on August 1, 2007 in Minneapolis. [14]

Death

On August 11, 2015, Saunders announced he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, [15] [16] for which he was undergoing treatment; Saunders planned to remain the Timberwolves' head coach and president. However, after being hospitalized for more than a month following complications in September, [17] [18] team owner Glen Taylor announced that Saunders would miss the next season. [19] Saunders died on October 25, 2015 at the age of 60. [20] [21] On February 15, 2018, the Timberwolves held a "Flip Saunders Night" during which a permanent banner was unveiled in the Target Center honoring Saunders. After his death, Flip's son Ryan Saunders took over as the Timberwolves' interim head coach.

Head coaching record

Legend
Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
TeamYearGWLWL%FinishPGPWPLPWL%Result
Minnesota 1995–96 622042.3236th in MidwestMissed Playoffs
Minnesota 1996–97 824042.4883rd in Midwest303.000Lost in First Round
Minnesota 1997–98 824537.5493rd in Midwest523.400Lost in First Round
Minnesota 1998–99 502525.5004th in Midwest413.250Lost in First Round
Minnesota 1999–2000 825032.6103rd in Midwest413.250Lost in First Round
Minnesota 2000–01 824735.5734th in Midwest413.250Lost in First Round
Minnesota 2001–02 825032.6103rd in Midwest303.000Lost in First Round
Minnesota 2002–03 825131.6223rd in Midwest624.333Lost in First Round
Minnesota 2003–04 825824.7071st in Midwest18108.556Lost in Conf. Finals
Minnesota 2004–05 512526.490(fired)
Detroit 2005–06 826418.7801st in Central18108.556Lost in Conf. Finals
Detroit 2006–07 825329.6461st in Central16106.625Lost in Conf. Finals
Detroit 2007–08 825923.7201st in Central17107.588Lost in Conf. Finals
Washington 2009–10 822656.3175th in SoutheastMissed Playoffs
Washington 2010–11 822359.2805th in SoutheastMissed Playoffs
Washington 2011–12 17215.118(fired)
Minnesota 2014–15 821666.1955th in NorthwestMissed Playoffs
Career1248654594.524984751.480

Source: [17]

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References

  1. Lee, Michael (March 5, 2011). "Wizards Coach Flip Saunders honors deceased mother Kay at spirited practice". Washington Post. Retrieved June 10, 2015. Philip Daniel Saunders was named after his two grandfathers...
  2. Steinberg, Dan. "Flip Saunders joins ESPN". Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  3. 1 2 "Flip Saunders, Cuyahoga Heights native and longtime NBA coach, passes away from cancer at age 60". cleveland.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  4. "Pistons Name Flip Saunders as Head Coach". nba.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  5. McCosky, Chris (June 3, 2008). "Pistons Fire Saunders". The Detroit News. Retrieved June 3, 2008.
  6. "Reports: Flip Saunders reaches deal to coach Washington Wizards". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  7. NBA executive: Saunders will be next Wizards coach
  8. "Flip Flops, Takes Fall For Grunfeld « NBA.com - Hang Time Blog". nba.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  9. "Flip Saunders Named Timberwolves Head Coach". Minnesota Timberwolves. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  10. "Wolves Name Flip Saunders As President Of Basketball Operations". THE OFFICIAL SITE OF THE MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  11. "Flip Saunders the Family Man". FabWags. August 23, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  12. "GOPHERSPORTS.COM Mindy Saunders bio :: University of Minnesota Official Athletic Site". gophersports.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  13. "NBA.com Flip Saunders". nba.com. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  14. Saunders avoids Minnesota bridge collapse, updated August 2, 2007
  15. "Timberwolves' Flip Saunders says he has Hodgkins lymphoma". USA Today . August 11, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  16. "Flip Saunders Statement". NBA . August 11, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  17. 1 2 "Timberwolves stunned by death of Saunders". ESPN.com. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
  18. "Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Phil "Flip" Saunders hospitalized". usatoday.com.
  19. "Timberwolves to be without Flip Saunders all season, owner says". abc7chicago.com. October 24, 2015. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  20. "Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Phil "Flip" Saunders Passes Away". NBA.com. October 25, 2015. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  21. "Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders dies of cancer at age 60". ESPN.com. October 25, 2015. Retrieved October 25, 2015.