I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. The kind of thinking you do when a Wolves game is on, the sound is up but the only thing registering are the players you’re watching run up and down the court and the commotion in your head, that back and forth upstairs. You know?!
I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about Flip (Coach Saunders passed away two weeks ago this Sunday after a fight with Cancer). I didn’t know Coach well but safe to say, as busy and energetic as he was, he didn’t know this many people cared and loved him so.
Coach would be happy to see how “his team”, coaches, players, front office colleagues, friends and family has rallied while bearing so much grief. I’ve been amazed. And isn’t it remarkable what can be done when a tragic situation happens and we band together to cope and mend that void.
This is a season that can go many ways for the Wolves. These young players lost their General and how they manage over the course of the marathon NBA season will be telling. Every player has a story. Every player was put on this roster by General Flip. While professional and accomplished, I can’t help but watch the Wolves and wonder how Flip might work these young and successful athletes.
Already, fans are engaged and invested in this team and trying to move on. As I was watching the Wolves-Miami game, yes…thinking…I found that didn’t stop fans from e-mailing and texting (email@example.com) with opinions. They are clearly in and want to see wins now. And as I found, some fans are rather sharp in their opinions..
Danny from MPLS was at the game and was frustrated with Coach Sam Mitchell’s rotations.Danny writing, “I don’t get it. I know Flip wouldn’t be playing Zach LaVine @ point, sitting Andre Miller and sitting KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns). Is it OK to be grumpy with coaching styles because, admit it Rod, Flip problems with his (Coach Mitchell) rotations. This is not a rebuild and they are NOT the same coaches. Not trying to be disrespectful.Thanks and GO Wolves.
Danny, thanks for the note and I love the apology at the end for offering his hoops opinion. You know what, it IS ok to have opinions because we move forward. We remember and play on. And yes, Flip and Coach Mitchell are not the same coaches. That will be one of the biggest obstacles this Wolves team (still off the court coming to grips with Flip’s death) will have to lock down. It will also be one of the biggest factors that Owner Glen Taylor will have to address at some point. Does emotion, perhaps continuity, tell him that keeping Mitchell as coach is the right thing. Or will Mr. Taylor, as it’s been suggested, will watch and wait to decide if he needs another Coach to lead his team.
There’s little doubt in my mind, as I watch the Wolves and think of coping, closure and moving ahead, that these young guys need a fair amount of slack this season. Yes, I want to see wins but let’s cut ‘em a little. Their General is gone. Just like that. And wins will come. And when they do, Flip will be in the front of the pack upstairs cheering them.
Just as it should be.
I promised last week that we’d start sifting through your notes and sharing with our readers. I’m grateful for your time to read this space and appreciate any and all notes. Even the ones that don’t really jibe with my thoughts. So, let’s do that.
John writes, “As a fan of Minnesota basketball, Flip Saunders was a great from playing on successful Gopher teams to being the winningest coach in Timberwolves history. His influence was even greater by being one of sports world's genuine good guys. Flip will be missed not only by Minnesota fans, but also by sports fans all over. RIP Flip”.
Zach writes: “To the hundreds of thousands of fans, like me, born around the time the Timberwolves were inaugurated into the NBA, Saunders was our coach. Not only was he our coach because Saunders was at the helm when the Kevin Garnett put the Timberwolves on the map, either. Saunders was our coach because of the things he did for the Minnesota basketball community. Saunders was our coach because of the countless youth clinics he orchestrated throughout the Twin Cities, where I learned to dribble, pass, and shoot a basketball.
Cooper writes: “I started playing basketball here less than a year ago here in Australia as a 15 year old and began researching NBA teams, players and coaches. For some reason I was drawn to the Timberwolves and they immediately became my favourite team. Just from brief research I could see what an impact Flip had made as head coach, and how much he was a part of the Timberwolves. I think Flip put a lot of time in over the off-season to make this team gel with its mix of old and new players. Hopefully the Wolves will be a serious threat to make the post-season this year!
And Barry writes: “With the death of Flip, may he rest in peace, do you think KG will feel responsible for taking the coaching job with the Wolves? I couldn't help but remember the emotional interview he had with John Thompson. The responsibility he felt (and had) with regards to the team is unlike anything i have seen. Now with him back and the loss of Flip Saunders, i could see it going through his mind to continue the vision of Flip by taking the reigns”.
Barry,thanks for your note but I see KG, when finished on the court, making his next moves upstairs. Coaching, I’m fairly sure, is not what he want to do next.
Thanks for all the kind notes and next week, I’m dishing out my all time favorites in between game notes. I’ve been listening to so many of your all-time greats that you get a GameON! perspective. Remember, keep your Game ON! and do not be a “casual” fan. Jump on board and keep the faith! See you on TV!
Got something to say?!
If you are a serious Timberwolves fan (and even the casual fan is allowed), drop me a note with your thoughts. Write me at rod@gameONtvMN.com.
Love for the Lynx!
Most of the Lynx players have taken their games overseas for the winter. But before they left, a downtown parade capped off the Championship celebration for the Minnesota Lynx after winning the WNBA title for the third time in 5-seasons. Lynx center Sylvia Fowles was named WNBA Finals MVP as the Lynx beat Indiana 69-52, finishing the 2015 postseason with a 7-3 record and at 22-12 finished the regular season with the second-best overall record in the league.
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