The Minnesota Timberwolves have found a coach they can get behind. Ryan Saunders was mobbed by his players, and later drenched in the locker room, after winning his coaching debut.
The win didn’t come easy. The Timberwolves narrowly beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, winning 119-117. With just seconds left, the Thunder missed a 3-point shot and a put-back.
As the clock hit zero, Saunders was hugged by his players on the sideline.
Ryan Saunders earns his first @NBA win in dramatic fashion.
— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) January 9, 2019
That wasn’t the end of the celebration, though. Saunders was greeted with a wet surprise as he entered the team’s locker room.
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) January 9, 2019
Timberwolves players drenched Saunders with water the instant he walked into the locker room. Karl-Anthony Towns posted that video with the caption, “This one was for Flip.” Ryan Saunders is the son of former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders. Flip Saunders coached the Timberwolves for 11 seasons. He died in 2015 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Flip Saunders played a pivotal role in Ryan Saunders’ win. After the game, Ryan Saunders revealed the Timberwolves’ first play of the game was a tribute to his father.
Ryan said that was his dad’s favorite play. Said he felt compelled to run it in honor of him and his legacy. https://t.co/CEjjFqEtkg
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 9, 2019
Following the win, Taj Gibson made it clear Saunders has the players’ support.
"You've gotta love the guy."
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) January 9, 2019
At 32, Saunders is the youngest coach in the NBA. He took over as the team’s interim head coach after Tom Thibodeau was fired Sunday.
Given the reaction Saunders received after his first win, this could be the start of a lengthy coaching career. There’s still more to prove, but doing enough to get the interim tag removed would be a big step in the right direction.
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