There are times where sports are about more than just the game happening, and last night in Oklahoma City was one of them.
Ryan Saunders, son of Flip Saunders, took the bench for the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time on Tuesday night. Saunders was taking over as the interim head coach after Tom Thibodeau had been relieved of his duties on Sunday after a 22-point win over the Lakers.
The younger Saunders decided to do something to honor his late father with something that most wouldn’t have had a chance to understand. He ran one his father’s favorite plays to open the game against the Thunder on Tuesday night in Minnesota’s 119-117 win. How special it was to the late Flip Saunders, wouldn’t be revealed until post game.
“I only told my mother before the game, I had an idea we might be able to get something off of it, but I didn’t know if it was necessarily going to work out but I said, just in an ode to him, I’d feel good about myself if I ran his favorite play (in) the first play of the game.”
It’s quite the tribute for a son to honor his father with one of his favorite plays ever in his first game as head coach. The subtlety to it is great and for all we know, basketball sets might be one of the Saunders’ family love languages.
At the end of the day, it’s a feel good moment for a team that’s been in need of some over the past year. Plus, if Ryan Saunders can heal some of the deep wounds in that locker room and prove to be the type of leader his fatehr was, then this is just the start of something special.