The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers paid an emotional tribute on Wednesday night to former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders, who died of cancer on Sunday.
The Timberwolves wore warm-up suits with the word “WE” on them, while the Lakers wore warm-up suits that said “FLIP” in honor of Saunders at the season opener.
ICYMI: Last night, the Timberwolves and Lakers honored Flip Saunders with special shooting shirts during warmups. pic.twitter.com/lpHGPy4rXD
— ESPN (@espn) October 29, 2015
But the tribute didn’t end once the game was over. Yahoo Sports reported the Timberwolves will wear “FLIP” patches on their jerseys throughout the rest of the season.
Timberwolves General Manager Milt Newton told Yahoo Sports, “Everybody is going through a grieving process and that’s not something you can circumvent in times like this, but Flip brought us all here, staff, players. If you know Flip, he’d want you to continue to march toward the goal that we have. And we just have to remind our guys that the best way to honor him is to compete, play hard and leave it all on the floor, play together, be unselfish and play ‘we ball’ instead of ‘me ball.'”
While interim coach Sam Mitchell remembered the former coach saying, “It’s something that in your own time you reflect about and think about,” and added, “Coach brought us all here for a reason. And he would expect nothing less than us coming out and being focused and doing the very best job.” (RELATED: Sports Community Reacts To News Of Flip Saunders’ Death)
Timberwolves player Andre Miller said Saunders was defiant until the end, and would even send out group messages to all the players that he expected them to arrive in shape for camp. Saunders would never make it to those camps though.
The Timberwolves defeated the Lakers on Wednesday at 112-111.