Flip Saunders won 654 NBA games but couldn’t beat Hodgkins lymphoma, which came on brutally fast and furious. NBA fans and players were shocked to learn he died Sunday of the disease. Saunders, 60, was the current head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was diagnosed in June. The team announced that Saunders’ cancer was “treatable” as late as August. He took a leave of absence in September and died on October 25.
A high school star who played with Celtics great Kevin McHale and NBA lifer Mychal Thompson at the University of Minnesota, Saunders was a popular figure in the NBA and beyond. He was not just the coach of the Timberwolves (his second stint as Minnesota head coach), but also team president and minority owner. Saunders coached in Washington and Detroit also. This would have been his 18th NBA season as head coach.