Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Rick Brunson abruptly resigned Tuesday and the team said he had fallen short of meeting its “high standards of conduct” amid reports he had acted improperly toward women.
The Timberwolves announced Brunson’s resignation in a one-sentence release and later sent a statement about the 45-year-old former NBA player.
“Our entire organization — made up of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Minnesota Lynx and Iowa Wolves— is deeply committed to creating a safe work environment for our employees, partners and fans,” the team said. “We work to maintain high standards of conduct and expect our staff to lead by example. We did not believe Mr. Brunson’s conduct was consistent with those standards.”
The Star Tribune, citing a source it did not identify, reported Brunson had been the subject of complaints of improper conduct toward women. The Athletic also reported that he was accused of improper conduct toward women while on the job. The Timberwolves did not return phone calls seeking additional comment and the NBA did not respond to a message.
In 2014, Brunson was arrested in suburban Chicago and charged with sexually assaulting a massage therapist. He was acquitted of all counts in that case, saying he had an ongoing extramarital affair with the woman.
The Timberwolves hired Brunson in 2016, and last season was his fourth working under coach Tom Thibodeau, who helped the team reach the NBA playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Brunson had previous assistant coaching jobs with the Denver Nuggets, Charlotte and Chicago, where he worked under Thibodeau.
Brunson played in the NBA for nine years, including stops in New York and Houston. He made it to the playoffs in five of his nine seasons, and was a member of the 1999 Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks, who lost to San Antonio in the finals.
Brunson is the father of Jalen Brunson, The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year who declared for the NBA draft last month after winning two national titles at Villanova. The star guard averaged 18.9 points and 4.6 assists per game in 40 games for the Wildcats this season.