When Kevin Garnett was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1995, Flip Saunders was in his first year as the team’s head coach.
Prior to 1995, the Timberwolves were awful, year in and year out, but together Saunders and Garnett turned the bottom-dwelling franchise into a playoff mainstay. Garnett, under Saunders’ guidance, grew into an all-time great player, winning the MVP during the 2003-04 season.
Throughout their respective coaching and player careers, Saunders and Garnett crossed paths repeatedly. In 2005, Saunders was fired as head coach in Minnesota and replaced by Kevin McHale; in 2007, Garnett was traded to the Boston Celtics. A few years later, in 2012, Saunders joined the Celtics as a front office advisor.
Then, just last year, Garnett waived his no-trade clause agreement in Brooklyn to return to Minnesota, where Saunders was coaching an upstart Timberwolves team. Their second stint together in Minnosta, in the twilight of both their careers, was cut unfairly short by Saunders’ Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Yesterday, Garnett took to Facebook to post about as moving a tribute as you’ll see.
Saunders won over 1000 NBA games during his career, and Garnett is on the verge of eclipsing the 26,000 point barrier. It’s safe to say that without the other, neither Garnett nor Saunders would have had anywhere close to the basketball success both enjoyed.
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