A sampling of reaction to Flip Saunders’ death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Reactions to the death of Minnesota Timberwolves president, coach and minority owner Flip Saunders:

”The NBA family is mourning today over the tragic loss of our friend and colleague, Flip Saunders. With more than 40 years around the game, 20 of them in the NBA, Flip’s untimely passing has left a gaping hole in the fabric of our league. Flip was a beloved figure around the NBA, nowhere more so than in Minnesota, demonstrating a genuine and consistent passion for his players, his team and the game. On behalf of the NBA, we offer our most sincere condolences to Flip’s wife, Debbie, their four children and the entire Minnesota Timberwolves organization.” – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

”The Timberwolves have lost a brilliant leader, and Minnesota has lost an outstanding citizen. I extend my deepest condolences to Flip’s team, family, and friends.” – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

”It is with tremendous sorrow that the Detroit Pistons organization acknowledges the passing of Flip Saunders. He will be remembered by Pistons fans as one of the franchise’s most successful head coaches – leading the club to three consecutive Eastern Conference Finals appearances and a franchise-record 64 wins in 2005-06. Flip was a great ambassador for the Metro Detroit community and had a positive influence on those who had the opportunity to spend time with him. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Debbie, his children Ryan, Mindy, Rachel, Kimberly and all his friends throughout the extended Detroit Pistons and NBA family.” – Detroit Pistons.

”He was all smiles passionate and really loved this game. He gave everything to the Timberwolves and did amazing things for us. He was our leader. Really gonna miss you coach. RestInPeace Flip.” – Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

”I’ve been thinking for 30 minutes of what to say but words can’t describe how special and important Coach Saunders was to me. I want to thank you coach for giving me the opportunity to play in the NBA and achieve my dream. I know the man above has a special place for you in his kingdom and this world, this league, this family will never be the same. I love you coach and I’m going to miss you so so much.” – Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.

”Coach Flip made my dream a reality. He believed in me. I am forever thankful to him for that. We all love you and will miss you.” – Timberwolves point guard Tyus Jones.

”This is a very sad day and my heart, my prayers and condolences go out to the entire Saunders family. Flip was more than just a friend, he was a confidant and a mentor. The basketball world lost a `coaches’ coach’ today, and I lost a great friend.” – Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

”It was an honor to be able to coach with Flip for over 10 years and a privilege to call him a friend for life. Although I join the entire basketball world in deep sadness over his passing, we should all celebrate a great man who was able to do so much for the game he loved, the people and players he worked with and the communities where he lived. He was a tremendous coach, but an even better husband and father and my thoughts and prayers are with his entire family during this difficult time.” – Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman.

”My condolences to the Saunders and (at)Timberwolves family! Lost a great person in our fraternity way to early.” – Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James.

”I really enjoyed my relationship with Flip. We worked a lot together and normally spent half of each of our calls talking about our kids. Flip would always tell me spend as much time with them as they grow quickly. He was a man of integrity and, in my opinion, always tried to do what was best for the players. I’ll miss talking with him.” – agent Jeff Schwartz.

”I can’t even believe what I just heard. Flip was one of the most genuine and caring people I have ever met. God works in mysterious ways but this loss really really hurts. I want to send all of my love to his family. (at)flip-saunders will never be forgotten.” – Washington Wizards forward and Minnesota native Kris Humphries.

”Flip Saunders and his journey through the game at all levels is a great example for all of us. He had an incredible passion and exuberance for the game itself, matched only by his love for the state of Minnesota. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Flip’s family and the entire Timberwolves organization.” – Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti.

”Couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor. Loved his family like no other. Prayers out for his wife Debbie and the kids. Awful.” – former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson.

”Sending prayers to the family of (at)Timberwolves Flip Saunders. Tremendous loss… gone too soon.” – music producer Jimmy ”Jam” Harris.

”Flip treated people incredibly well, and everyone he touched, loved him. He was a tremendous teacher, coach and analyst whose energy and work ethic were amazing. Above all, he was a great and loyal friend. I am heartbroken.” — ESPN coordinating producer Bruce Bernstein.