The easy thing for the Saunders family to do would have been to walk away.
Flip Saunders’ fingerprints are all over the Minnesota Timberwolves — from the players on the roster to the new scoreboard that hangs in the arena. One year after his death, his presence is still a strong one at Target Center, and it would have been understandable if his family would have wanted to step back from the organization while grieving the loss of their patriarch.
Ryan Saunders could have easily found another coaching job. He didn’t. He is still here, coaching the roster that his father had such a critical role in assembling.
Rachel Saunders could have found another job in the corporate world. She didn’t. She’s still working as manager of team services for the front office that her father rebuilt from the ruins of the previous regime.
Debbie Saunders could have retreated to her home in the Minneapolis suburbs, avoiding the place her husband devoted so much of his time to restoring. She didn’t. She bought four seats just behind the Timberwolves bench so she could be there to watch the young men Flip drafted, traded for and signed continue to grow up in front of her eyes.
She admits it has been a struggle but it’s also clear the family isn’t going anywhere.
The NBA’s regular season opens with three games tonight. Minnesota opens its season a day later, on the road, at Memphis.