In August, the Timberwolves announced Saunders had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In September, he was admitted to the hospital after experiencing complications from chemotherapy treatment. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported earlier this month Saunders’s health had taken a downturn.
Saunders began a second coaching stint with the Timberwolves in June 2014, one year after becoming president of basketball operations. Saunders originally coached Minnesota from ’95–05.
Players and teams around the NBA shared their condolences to the Saunders family.
My heart and all of my love goes out to Flip Saunders Family as your leader leaves this earth in the flesh. His spirit lives in the present as we speak. In 1996 Flip became a father figure and my first #NBA coach. Wow how fast time blows by. Our conversations were so meaningful in ways that helped me understand the game of life by explaining the game of basketball. Your kind soul and loving ways helped me understand how to play the most important position in the sport of basketball. You gave me not only the chance to perform at a high level but a chance to communicate my thoughts on the game. You taught me how to play the pick and roll but you also taught me how to pick up and roll with the good and bad in the life. As a rookie we had so many conversations in such a short time period. You said "The point guard has to be the extension to the coach" These words lived inside of me as I've had my share of ups and downs with coaches. I guess when I left you I went on a journey to end up with a similar coach 7,000 miles away. I thank you for giving me my foundation in how to play the professional way. I thank you for giving me unconditional love as if I was your son when I was so young. It was so needed as KG and I needed all of it to get where we are now. What an impact you've had on so many humans on earth. What a father you've been to your children as I can remember Ryan aka RyeKnow when he was a little boy. We will miss you as a piece of your children's hearts have been taken but we will celebrate you forever. Thank God that love is the most powerful thing to give and receive. The love from all will be shared to help the healing process from the pain of your flesh not being present. I know you will RIP because you did all of what you did on earth in your lifeline. I say #FlipForever as we all grow from your teachings and messages. I LOVE YOU and I'll miss you until we meet again. #LoveisLove P.S As for your amazing Wife Debbie and girls Mindy, Rachel, and Kimberly thank you for sharing your dad with all the people who's lives your dad touched. I can feel your pain because I know your love for your dad. I pray for peace in your heart.
We have all been blessed by your wonderful life, Coach Flip. You will be deeply missed. Rest in peace.— shabazz muhammad (@ShabazzMuhammad) October 25, 2015
- Kenny Ducey and Rohan Nadkarni