Remembering Flip

I don’t mean to confuse anyone, my dad is doing great, in fact he is as good as ever. His next MRI is slated for the second week in November, where I will have more info on him.

Being that my dad’s blog is about cancer, I felt this was as good a place to take a moment and reflect on another man’s life lost to cancer. As many of you have already heard, Flip Saunders (former Timberwolves Coach and President) passed away a couple of days ago at the age of 60 from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The main reason I felt it prudent to post something, was that he was given somewhat of an opposing prognosis as my dad was given.

When my dad was diagnosed with his brain tumor, he was given a relatively high chance of dying past 1 year. On the other hand, Flip was given a relatively high chance of surviving. A few months later, Flip passes away, whereas my dad is still here.

This is the ugly side of cancer. Regardless of the prognosis, or the chances of survival, it is important to remember that cancer is an ugly beast that can rear it’s head at any time.

If I’ve learned anything from my own experiences, it is to take the time to spend with your loved ones as much as possible, as those memories will last forever. Reminiscing on those memories are the best way to enjoy a lost loved one’s company.

Being as it may, here are my memories of Flip that I will take with me wherever I go in life.

A Trip Down Memory Lane
Many of you know that growing up I was involved with a dance studio that competed at regional and national competitions. During the later years of my dancing career, I had the opportunity of performing a duet with Flip’s daughter Mindy.

It was around this time that I got to meet Flip in person. Let me say that the first time I shook his hand, I did so in awe/respect of his regional popularity that being a coach of a professional sport can bring…..but the last time I shook his hand, 15 years later, I did so in awe/respect of the great man that he is, and the great family that he has helped raise.

My first real memory of Flip was at a nationals dance competition in Daytona Beach, Florida. I was in 7th grade at the time. He had a love for Krispy Kreme donuts and one night he came to the hotel with boxes upon boxes of those donuts.

I had never heard of these before….and immediately gorged myself with 7 of those tasty delights. That week down in Florida was the start of my growth spurt….I like to think that Flip helped fuel my growth with theses donuts.

Thanks Flip, for helping me grow.

Being that he was the Timberwolves coach at the time, I had an immediate interest in basketball and followed the wolves pretty closely. This led to a great friendship with a guy named Chris who had a lot of love for basketball and the wolves.

This spawned Chris and I going to and watching a number of games. There was one important thing that Chris taught me, the game isn’t over, until it is over, even when your team is down, don’t give up.

That lesson led to me and another buddy (Josh) enjoying Favre winning his first home game with the Vikes in typical Favre fashion, with a game winning (impossible) touchdown to Greg Lewis in the endzone against the 49ers.

Half of the Metrodome had been emptied out, I turned to Josh and said, the game isn’t over, until it is over, so we stayed and enjoyed one of the greatest sports moments of our lives (yes two grown men were hugging and crying…it was epic).

I know some might see this as a stretch, but if it wasn’t for Flip, I would not have appreciated basketball in my youth, which meant I would have missed out on this epic moment.

Thanks Flip, for helping me build friendships with great memories.

One summer my family was invited for an afternoon up at the Saunders’ cabin. I got to enjoy shooting some hoops with Flip and his son Ryan.

He was kind enough not to critique my lackluster ball skills. Regardless, I thought that it was pretty cool to play ball with these two.

Later Flip pulled out his Jet Ski and began towing people around the lake on tubes/skis. To this day, I will always remember the enjoyment that man had pulling screaming kids around a lake for an afternoon.

Thanks Flip, for showing me that you can work real hard, and still find the time to enjoy with family and friends.

My wife and I were married four years ago. We invited Flip, Debbie, and Mindy to our wedding.

I figured Flip would not be able to make it with his busy schedule.

To my surprise, he, Debbie, and Mindy all came. Rather than let people clink glasses to get my wife and I to kiss, we had people order kisses off a menu for a price.

This is where Flip’s goofy side came out.

When I asked for his order, he threw in some extra money under the condition that my mom and dad come over to their table for a kiss.

Thanks Flip, for showing me how to be creatively fun-natured in front of a room full of people.

Flip, you were a great man, it did not take a rocket scientist to see that.

What always impressed me, was that it wasn’t just you, it was your entire family. From your wife, to your daughters, and to your son, your family has been the kindest/nicest family I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

I truly am honored to have had the opportunity of knowing you, and your entire family, and thanks for leaving with me, lasting memories.

#RIPFlip #SaundersStrong