Flip Saunders: Top 10 Moments of His Tenure in Washington

2:09 PM, Jan 24, 2012   |    comments
Although it was short lived, the Flip Saunders era produced many memories. Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- I literally was in the second paragraph of an article entitled "If Flip Saunders survives 76ers loss, he's safe all season." And then the bombshell we have all been waiting for dropped on Twitter. Flip Saunders, after leading the Wizards to their worst start in franchise history, has been fired.

PHOTOS: TOP 10 Flip Moments On The Wizards

His overall record in two-plus seasons with Washington was 51-130, a 39.2 winning percentage. Here are the ten most memorable moments of Saunders short tenure in D.C.

10) Winter 2012: The Wizards create a new message for the fans entitled "new traditions"

The team was obviously a year too early in trying to proclaim that any significant changes were made. It's hard to start "new traditions" with the same exact roster, coach and general manager from the previous 23-win season. Or maybe the "new tradition" is being in turmoil?

9) June 23, 2009: Wizards trade 2009 fifth overall pick, Etan Thomas, Darius Songalia and Oleksiy Pecherov for Mike Miller and Randy Foye

Instead of drafting Ricky Rubio, the Wizards opted to rent Miller and Foye to team up with the Arenas-Jamison-Butler combo for a deep playoff run. Well, Miller and Foye each lasted one season, with each dealing with injuries. In all likelihood, Saunders was the one who pushed for this trade. He didn't know the personality of Arenas well enough yet to determine how big of a joke he actually was. So Flip thought adding veterans would be more beneficial to the Wizards than a young player. The first of several wrong turns.

8) March 15, 2011: JaVale McGee's Selfish Triple-Double

Please fast forward to 1:46 of the this video highlight of McGee against the Bulls in a loss last season. Now you know why McGee's always glancing up at the scoreboard during games.

7) September 24, 2010: Wizards extend Andray Blatche's contract for five years and $35 million

If I were Flip Saunders, I would've laid in the middle of K Street before I let general manager Ernie Grunfeld extend Blatche's contract. The organization blindly looks at statistics rather than using the eye test. Less than 10 percent of the time Blatche looks like he gels with the team. This moment was the beginning of the end for Saunders.

6) January 11, 2012: Wizards score franchise low 64 points against Bulls

Without Derrick Rose and with a limited Joakim Noah, the Wizards quit on their coach and the city of Washington. Barely any set plays were run, meaning the Wizards were chucking away shots at the rim without purpose. Backup guard John Lucas III scored 25 points, a scoring total John Wall had yet to hit during the season.

5) January 18, 2012: Wizards stun OKC 105-102

Clearly, the most memorable victory during the Saunders era. It looked like the team could've built some energy following the win and could possibly have extended Saunders' stay in D.C. The Thunder were the best team in the league with a 12-2 record and Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 72 points. Washington's team basketball prevailed in front of a packed Verizon Center.

4) June 23, 2010: Washington selects John Wall number one overall

David Stern and the NBA "lottery" rewarded the Wizards the first pick in the draft after the Gilbert Arenas fiasco. Wall has shown flashes of lightning early in his career, but his flaws definitely have limited the Wizards this season. Until he isn't surrounded by garbage, it will be tough to determine where exactly Wall's talent ceiling might be in the NBA. 

3) February 13, 2010: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson are traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Quinton Ross

Look how horrible that trade is, for both teams. Brendan Haywood is the only player who has survived the trade. Again, point this blame towards Grunfeld and away from Saunders. Players like Cartier Martin, Hilton Armstrong and Othyus Jeffers began to see regular minutes for Washington. What a joke.

2) November 24, 2009: Longtime owner Abe Pollin passes away

Rest In Peace to the 85-year-old who bought the team back in 1964. Would Pollin have fired Saunders earlier? Probably not. Pollin was a tad inept to the reality of today's NBA, as evidence of him signing off on the $124 million Gilbert Arenas contract.

1) December 24, 2009: The Gilbert Arenas handgun saga

Has one player ever derailed a franchise more of its intended course than Arenas? He stored firearms in the arena, violating NBA and Washington D.C. laws. He was suspended for the rest of the season and then eventually traded for Rashard Lewis, now the worst player on the Wizards roster.

What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Mr_KevinJones

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