#BeYourOwnIcon: Flip Saunders

We will all die. This is one of life’s universal truths.

The important part and point of this blog is this - how will we be remembered when we do?

It’s a question that came to mind after the recent passing of NBA head coach Flip Saunders to Hodgkins’ lymphoma. Whether you are an ardent fan of the game or a more casual one, Saunders always seemed like a nice, approachable person.  

As Lakers coach Byron Scott said, “He was one of those guys that made you feel like you had known him for a while, even if it was only 15 minutes.”

Though he had a common man quality to him, Saunders was far from ordinary. He inspired. He led. And he touched those he came in contact with.

This became apparent after the Timberwolves first heard word of his death during a pre-season practice last month.   What happened next has been well-chronicled in the media. A devastated Kevin Garnett left the floor, walked to the parking garage and sat down in Saunders’ parking spot. A photo of that moment – Garnett’s back to the camera – was posted on the NBA forward’s Facebook page with these four words: “Forever in my heart....”

Of course others took to social media to remember Saunders, who also served as the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations. They described him as a kind man, a great coach and an even better person.

“He believed in me and taught me what it takes to be a good player and a better man,” the Wizards’ John Wall wrote on his Instagram page.

The Cavaliers Kevin Love, who played for Saunders in Minnesota, said the coach was a “great basketball mind and even better human being. You had a great impact on my life personally and professionally.”

And forward Thaddeus Young of the Nets tweeted that Saunders had a passion for his players.

Of course, there were tributes to Saunders prior to the Timberwolves first game against the Lakers. Both teams wore shirts (the Lakers wearing “Flip” on their warm-ups; the Timberwolves “WE” on theirs) and the Timberwolves had a patch on their jerseys to express their feelings towards a man who not only believed in others, but taught them to believe in themselves.  

In doing so, Saunders left the world a much better place.

Words of an Icon: “I have a saying that potential is what you’re capable of doing, motivation determines what you do, and your character and attitude determines how well you do it.” – Flip Saunders