On This Day: In 2015, former Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders passes away

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On October 25, 2015, former Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders passed away at the age of 60. He coached 3 seasons in Detroit and led the Pistons to a regular season record of 176 – 70, a winning percentage of .716.

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From the 2005-2006 season through the 2007-2008 season, Saunders led the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Championship each year. In those three playoff seasons, Saunders’ teams had a 30-21 postseason record but fell in the Conference Finals each year. Following the loss in the 2008 Eastern Conference Championship, he was relieved of his duties with the Pistons.

In his first season as head coach, the Pistons achieved their most regular season wins as a franchise with a 64-18 record, the best in the NBA that season. Saunders was a favorite with the players, as well as the fans while in Detroit.

Flip started his coaching career at Golden Valley Lutheran College where he compiled a 92-13 record. This includes a perfect 56-0 at home. Flip spent five years as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota and two years at the University of Tulsa.  After Tulsa, Flip spent 7 years in the CBA winning two CBA Championships and two Coach of the Year awards.

In 17 seasons coaching in the NBA, Saunders’ teams made it to the playoffs in 11 times. Regardless, Flip sadly never won a championship in the NBA.

On August 11, 2015, Saunders announced he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and he passed just 2 1/2 months later. Flip left behind a wife and four children who were all accomplished athletes at the University of Minnesota.  Saunders’ legacy will live on in Minnesota, Detroit, and the NBA.


 

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