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Flip Saunders (1955 - 2015)

AP Photo / Tony Dejak

Flip Saunders (1955 - 2015)

Flip Saunders, the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves who notched more than 1,000 victories over a 35-year coaching career, died Sunday of cancer, according to ESPN. He was 60.

He also coached the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards during a 17-season career as an NBA head coach that included 654 wins.

Saunders announced in August that he was being treated for Hodgkin lymphoma. Doctors considered it "very treatable and curable," and Saunders at the time said he planned to remain the Timberwolves' head coach and president of basketball operations. However, he was hospitalized following a setback in September, and it was announced Friday that Saunders would miss the entire 2015-16 season.

His NBA teams won 50 or more games on seven occasions, including a franchise-record 64 victories for the Pistons in 2005-06. Twice he coached in the All-Star Game, and he led Team USA to the gold medal in the Goodwill Games in 2001. He also spent time as an analyst with ESPN.


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The native of Cleveland was named the Player of the Year in Ohio as a senior in high school when he averaged 32 points a game. In college, he played at the University of Minnesota, where he played alongside future NBA players Mychal Thompson, Ray Williams and Kevin McHale.

He began his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1977 and moved up the ranks in the CBA, leading the La Crosse Catbirds to two league championships.

Saunders is survived by a wife and four children, including son Ryan, who is a Wolves assistant coach.

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