Flip Saunders diagnosed with cancer

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July 24, 2016 | 12:20 pm EDT Update
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Beasley has played with four teams in eight years, including two stints with the Heat. He’s only 27 and perhaps with discipline and a couple of breaks could develop into a dependable rotation player. That’s why he was in Las Vegas. “I feel as if I’ve always been prepared. I’ve been one to take my game seriously, but it’s just a little more special, a little more precious, just slow down and enjoy the ride this time,” he said. “My first time, I was 19, 20 years old, I thought I knew everything and y’all gave me all the money in the world, so I wasn’t thinking to look at y’all [in the eye] anymore. I’m doing it the right way this time, slowing down, enjoying the process, falling in love with the process.
“That’s the misconception a lot of people get, NBA guys go to China and average big numbers and automatically you think the talent is not as good,” he said. “It isn’t, but it’s not that far off. It will be the same thing if I was here [in the NBA] and my team was giving me the ball all 48 minutes. “You get the ball a lot, so you ain’t gotta force no shots or take no bad shots — always taking the right shots, making the right plays. Your IQ and talent will take over from there.
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Instead of pursuing a front-office position, Howard decided he wanted to coach. “I couldn’t turn that offer down and I have the bug because of him and learning from a guy like [Spoelstra], one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Howard said. “He doesn’t win championships by mistake, obviously he’s doing something right. This is one of the most bright individuals I’ve ever met and that is a fact.” Howard played for one of the most popular and recognized teams in NCAA history with the Michigan Fab Five of the early 1990s. Now he’s coaching players who were born after the quintet left Michigan and have only YouTube video to reference those days. Twenty-plus years later, Howard fully understands the dismay he may have caused some of his coaches, and he uses that experience with his twenty-something crew.
“It came towards the end of my career when I joined the Heat. David Fitzdale is one of the guys who inspired and talked me into coaching,” Howard said. “I’m always going to point the finger at him. At first my mind-set was built on working in the front office, being a scout, and building my way up. “I had a great conversation one time. Coach Fitzdale came to my house and we had a drink of wine and we were talking and he felt like this team needed me. He felt also the way I grabbed the respect from the guys in the locker room and the leadership qualities and also my knowledge and experience from the game of basketball, that it would be needed on his staff.”
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One ex-player who took advantage of the screening was Cherokee Parks, who had surgery to repair an aortic valve in 2013 and is a proponent for comprehensive health care for former NBA players. The issue for many ex-players who did not get lucrative contracts may not only be lack of attention to potential health issues, but the inability to afford quality health care if problems are discovered. “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had fatalities to bring all of this stuff to the surface, but quite frankly it’s bad,” Parks said. “We all prepared to get to the NBA since we were 12, 13 years old, and basically when you get to college and you play in the NBA, you’re babied. You’re shown what doctors to go to, don’t pay for anything, you go in there and when you get the results back, you don’t even get the results, they all go to your team physician.”
Storyline: Sean Rooks Death
Parks said Rooks’s death has had a profound effect on a lot of players from his generation. “I think with Sean Rooks, maybe it was the final straw right there,” Parks said. “Players leaving the league after a certain number of years should have full health coverage for the rest of your life. And the league should be able to put the funds together where they can maintain and say, ‘Hey you’re 40, go get a CT scan. At 45, you should be getting this blood work done.’ We’ve been babied for so long, you are just really learning at 35 how to take care of yourself for the first time on top of how to pay for these things. For me right now, it’s a major part of my life.”
For many former NBA players, it’s not only overeating that may cause heart issues, but chronic physical issues may prevent the ability to work out. Former NBA sharpshooter Tracy Murray, who underwent the screening, said a recent hip replacement prevents him from playing basketball as he once did. He has to find creative ways to exercise. “Things that you could burn off back in the day, you can’t burn off anymore,” Murray said. “When we were younger we were taught how to eat when we got [to the NBA]. That excludes all the stuff that you really like to eat, like soul food or pizza, and when you’re done [playing], No. 1 you don’t want to run anymore for a while and No. 2, I want to eat whatever I want to eat and the end result of that is you start gaining weight. It’s best to stay on top it.”
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