Raise a banner in the Target Center rafters for the late Flip Saunders
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Philip Daniel "Flip" Saunders was born on February 23, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio. After a stellar basketball career for Cuyahoga Heights High School, Flip chose to attend and play basketball for the University of Minnesota. He then went on to coach basketball for various colleges and semi-professional teams, but soon returned to Minnesota to coach for the Timberwolves.
On May 11, 1995 the Minnesota Timberwolves hired Flip as their new General Manager and eventual head coach of the team. Along with Kevin Garnett, Flip led Minnesota to their greatest years as a franchise including their first and only Western Conference Finals appearance in 2004.
Flip departed from the team in 2005 due to the franchise starting to struggle, but after stops in Detroit and Washington he soon returned to Minnesota in 2014 to help the franchise return to their former glory. Flip made countless moves to better the team, most notably bringing in young players Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and bringing back franchise legend Kevin Garnett.
Unfortunately, on August 11, 2015 Flip Saunders announced he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. He started undergoing treatment and planned to remain the head coach and president of the team, but complications hospitalized him that September. Flip Saunders passed away on October 25, 2015 at the age of 60.
Flip's death not only impacted the Timberwolves family, but everyone around the league. Upon hearing the news of Flip's passing I burst into tears, and I know I am not the only one. I remember crying as I read through both the Reddit thread and my Twitter feed following the announcement of his passing. But most notably, I remember this photo from that horrid day.
At their first home game that season, a mere 3 days later, the team gave a heartfelt tribute to their late legend. You can watch that here and here. They also played through the season with patches on their jerseys. These are very nice gestures, but as a die-hard Timberwolves fan I do not think this is enough to remember Flip's importance to the franchise.
This is why I am proposing adding a banner to the Target Center rafters. Currently, the only person honored (apart from the Minneapolis Lakers hall of fame members) is the late Malik Sealy, who tragically died in a car crash during his playing career. This season, the Timberwolves hopefully will add Kevin Garnett, the franchise's leader in just about every category ever, to those rafters. I also hope to see Flip Saunder's Golden Gophers #14 hanging up in the rafters, or at least some sort of banner dedicated to Flip.
Without Flip, the Timberwolves would have nothing. Our only playoff appearances and winning seasons were under Flip's management. Both of our franchise players Kevin Garnett and Karl-Anthony Towns were brought in by Flip. All of our successes have been because of Flip and all of our future successes will be direct results of Flip's hard work.
Please, Glen Taylor, Tom Thibodeau, Crunch the Wolf, the Timberwolves Organization, the City of Minneapolis, and whoever else this may be sent to... I beg of you to honor this Timberwolves legend in the best way possible. Flip deserves something eternal. Flip deserves to be remembered by Wolves fans forever.
Credit goes to tiddlycove on Reddit for the picture.
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