'I'd Tell Him Thank You' - Chauncey Billups On Flip Saunders
Flip Saunders was known around the league as a players’ coach.
One of the players he connected most with and on more than one stop was point guard Chauncey Billups.
Billups was first with Saunders in Minnesota from 2000-2002. The two then joined up again from 2005-2008 with the Pistons, advancing to three-straight Eastern Conference Finals.
“Flip to me as a coach, he taught me so much,” Billups said. “He was so patient with me. He a had a ton to do with me learning the game of basketball. Learning the position. There are not many coaches that you play for that you continue on and have a lifelong relationship/friendship with. Flip was that kind of guy. If I had a chance to talk to Flip one last time, I would simply just tell him ‘thank you for playing the role you’ve played in my life and I will forever, forever be indebted to you.'"
Saunders hosted Billups at a few practices when Saunders returned back to Minnesota as President of Basketball Operations in 2013 and coach in 2014-15.
"He had a ton to do with me learning the game of basketball...learning the position." - Chauncey Billups
Join us tomorrow as we honor Flip pre-game. pic.twitter.com/QfMk8mbbtZ
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) February 15, 2018
This is one of many stories of the impact Saunders had on the game of basketball. Billups will likely make the Hall of Fame and appeared in six All-Star Games, three coming with Saunders as his coach.
Flip Saunders Night will be on Thursday when the Wolves host the Lakers. A ceremony will be held about an hour before the 8 p.m. tipoff. Players will wear custom shoes honoring Flip and all fans in attendance will receive a commemorative coin, one of Flip’s trademarks during his time with the team.