PORTLAND, ORE. – The Timberwolves will remember their late coach and president of basketball operations when they celebrate Flip Saunders Night next month.
They’ll do so at an 8 p.m. TNT Thursday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 15 at Target Center, where Saunders coached the Wolves 11 seasons in two separate stints.
A permanent banner that honors Saunders’ memory will be unveiled that night and all fans in attendance will receive a Saunders commemorative coin, a nod to the Wolves coins he had created for team players, coaches and staff as a token all could share when he returned to the franchise in 2013 after eight years away.
The Timberwolves Fast Break Foundation will make a donation to the Flip Saunders Legacy Fund, as well.
Saunders died at age 60 in October 2015 after he had been found to have Hodgkin’s lymphoma that summer.
“That’s going to be absolute magic for me,” said Wolves center and newly chosen NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, whom Saunders drafted first overall in June 2015. “He’s done so much for the organization. Words can’t describe what he has given me and my family. I don’t think any of us players can give Flip back everything he has given us. It’s good that we’re at least trying to find ways to give back to the man who has given us, me especially, my entire life.
“I live this life because of him, because he took an opportunity with me when I was coming out of college. We’re giving him a banner. I don’t think we could ever give back what he has given us.”
Towns keeps two different Wolves coins Saunders gave him.
“I have them in my car at all times,” Towns said. “They’re in the middle of my car as good luck.”
Do the right thing
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau’s team is sending two players to next month’s NBA All-Star Game. Towns is going for his first time, Jimmy Butler for his fourth.
Pal and rival Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers aren’t sending anyone after Western Conference coaches voted for Butler, Towns and five other reserves, but left off deserving guard Lou Williams.
The two men agree on one thing: They both would like to see the All-Star Game rosters expand from 12 to 15 players.
“I wish the league would go to 15 guys,” Rivers said. “I just think that would be the right thing to do. We’ll see.”