Flip Saunders believes Sam Cassell’s ‘Big Balls Dance’ in 2004 cost T’Wolves a title
A long time ago, in an era separated from this time by tons and tons of losses, Flip Saunders served in his first run as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Saunders obviously again is the T’Wolves coach — as well as President of Basketball Operations — and in light of recent events, hearkened back to a time when the team actually made a deep run in the playoffs.
It was the 2003-04 NBA season. The Wolves had assembled its best roster in franchise history. With Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell anchoring a talented lineup, the Wolves made a deep run in the postseason, reaching the Western Conference Finals.
Saunders was reminded recently of a certain event during that playoff run that he believes derailed the team’s NBA title aspirations.
Timberwolves scorer Kevin Martin was fined $15,000 this week for a celebration colloquially known in NBA circles as the “Big Balls Dance.” Originally popularized by Cassell, it’s when a player celebrates a big shot by holding his arms well below the crotch area to pantomime the suggestion that their genitals are extremely large.
This incident, while not impressed with it, reminded Saunders of how Cassell busted out the very same celebration after hitting a big shot during its playoff series against the Sacramento Kings.
Saunders believes the herky-jerky movements typical of the dance may have exacerbated the seriousness of a nagging hip issue Cassell was dealing with during the magical postseason run (via Star Tribune):
Saunders takes a rather dim view of the gesture as well, but he has his reasons. According to Saunders, Cassell injured his hip doing that gesture that night, and was injured and ineffective in the conference finals, which the Wolves lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
“We lost a championship by that,” Saunders said. “When [Cassell] did that he had an avulsion fracture in his hip. … So, from that perspective, I’ve always been against that type of thing.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. The Timberwolves haven’t even sniffed that level of success since that season. But the “Big Balls Dance” remains an oft-used, albeit frowned upon, weapon in NBA players’ arsenal of crude celebratory gestures.
(GIF via Bleacher Report)