Timberwolves players — particularly young cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins — haven’t been shy about their affection for new interim head coach Ryan Saunders, who took over after Tom Thibodeau was fired Sunday.
Saunders, 32, has been on the Wolves’ staff since Towns and Wiggins were rookies and has formed a bond with both. Wiggins, in fact, was even at Saunders’ wedding.
If that special relationship wasn’t clear before Saunders’ coaching debut Tuesday, it certainly was during and especially after the Wolves pulled out a 119-117 victory at Oklahoma City — a thrilling game in which Wiggins had 40 points and 10 rebounds in what might have been the best game of his career.
Players mobbed Saunders after the final horn, and the celebration got even more raucous in the locker room — which we can see from videos posted on social media.
Towns posted a celebration video with the words “THIS ONE WAS FOR FLIP,” a reference of course to Ryan’s father. Flip Saunders drafted Towns No. 1 overall in 2015 and was set to coach him as a rookie before Saunders died of complications from Hodgkin’s lymphoma just days before the season was set to start.
Wiggins, meanwhile, posted a video on Instagram with the comment: “Been with me since my first season, you deserve this moment. Congratulations Coach.”