Yes, you read that right. Flip Saunders the GM hired Flip Saunders to be the head coach, taking nepotism to a whole new level. Here is how I imagine the interview went.
GM Flip: Flip, thanks for coming in.
Coach Flip: Not a problem at all, Flip, thanks for the opportunity.
GM Flip: Flip, obviously you have heard some of the names that are on the short list for the Timberwolves job, including Florida’s Billy Donovan, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and former Knicks and Rockets coach and current ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy. Tell me why I should hire you instead of any of these other guys.
Coach Flip: That’s a great question, Flip, I’m glad you asked. I think if you look at my track record you’ll see a history of success. I took Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth in 1996-97, my first full year as head coach, had 50 win seasons in 1999-2000 and 2001-02 and came thisclose to a trip to the NBA Finals in 2003-04. In fact, I took Minnesota to the playoffs eight-straight years while I was head coach.
GM Flip: Flip, I’m hearing a lot of past success, but as you well know, the NBA is a “what have you done for me lately” league, so what have you done lately?
Coach Flip: Very fair question, Flip. After I left the Timberwolves, I coached the Pistons for three seasons, setting a franchise record with 64 wins in 2005-06 and then recording back-to-back 50-win seasons in 2006-07 and 07-08. We made it to the Eastern Conference Finals all three years I was there, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump into the Finals.
GM Flip: Flip, if you were so successful in Detroit, why were you let go?
Coach Flip: Flip, it’s a question I have asked myself many, many times. To be honest, I’m not really sure. Then-GM Joe Dumars said the team needed a “new voice.” In my defense, they’ve had five new voices since I left and the team has had nowhere near the success that I had.
GM Flip: While I agree with you there, Flip, since you left Detroit you also haven’t had anywhere near the success that you had with either the Pistons or the Timberwolves. You went to Washington and won just 51 games over two-plus years. What happened there?
Coach Flip: I figured this would be brought up, Flip, and I appreciate your bluntness. That was a disappointing experience for me, both professionally and personally. We had to deal with locker room issues and injuries. Gilbert Arenas was the star of that team but he only ended up playing 32 games my first year and 21 my second, before he was traded to Orlando. Unfortunately other than Gilbert we did not have a lot of talent on that team, so I really didn’t have a lot to work with. I would argue that most of the blame would fall at the feet of the GM Ernie Grunfeld. I think he had set the roster so that it was Gilbert’s team but didn’t know Gilbert as well as he should have.
GM Flip: I’ve worked with Grunfeld myself, Flip, so I can certainly sympathize.
Coach Flip: Flip I can assure you that our relationship will be much stronger than what I had with Ernie.
GM Flip: I certainly hope so, Flip!
GM Flip: Let’s get back to the question at hand, which is: why should I hire you?
Coach Flip: Sorry about that, Flip, I guess I got a little carried away.
GM Flip: Not at all, Flip, happens to us all.
Coach Flip: What makes me a good coach and the right person for this job is how I deal with the people around me. I have coached young teams and veteran teams and have succeeded with both. I have coached young rising superstars and older cagey veterans, and have succeeded with both. In short, Flip, I am the man to coach the Timberwolves.
GM Flip: Well I certainly am intrigued with what you have to offer, Flip! If I were to hire you, what would be your first course of action?
Coach Flip: First things first, I would sell Kevin Love on Minnesota, hard. Priority number one has to be getting him re-signed.
GM Flip: Right answer, Flip! It’s like you’re in my head.
Coach Flip: I figured you were thinking the same thing, Flip!
GM Flip: Well, Flip, to be quite honest with you I already knew you were the man for this job before the interview even began. Something about you reminds me a little bit of me, and nothing you’ve said in this interview has dissuaded me from that opinion. Welcome back to the Timberwolves!
Coach Flip: That’s great, Flip, thanks so much! You won’t be disappointed. I have a feeling we will work very, very well together.
GM Flip: Couldn’t have said it better myself, Flip.