Legendary Knicks athletic trainer Mike Saunders is out with a book of quotes titled "Life Sentence"
After spending 27 years as the athletic trainer for the New York Knicks (1978-2005), Mike Saunders has acquired plenty of knowledge about basketball, sports and life. Through the years, he would jot down quotes on business cards from players and coaches he heard. Those self-help kind of quotes and many others he gathered through veracious reading about world leaders, politicians and powerful individuals are now a part of his first book Life Sentence: A Collection of Quotes and Stories to Inspire, Motivate, Empower.
Saunders joins SportsJam with Doug Doyle to talk about his book and his amazing career that also includes recently working as a trainer at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
"Make everyday your masterpiece", one of the quotes in Life Sentence from the late legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, has become Saunders' mantra.
Saunders was named Trainer of the Year in 1994 and 2005 and was the NBA All-Star trainer in 1986 and 1998, while working for seven Knicks coaches who are now in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Experiencing the high and lows of the Knicks through the years, Saunders established many great relationships with players like Hall of Famers Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.
"Earl is certainly one of the greatest people that ever walked the earth. He's so special. He had such a great career, yet he's so humble, that's one of the things I love about him. I've worked with different project with him. One was an educational program up in the inner city. He's such a wonderful and uplifting person. I've had the opportunity to go out to dinner with him in Harlem where he lives and walk the streets with and it's like the king is walking and everyone is so reverential towards him."
During his Hall of Fame speech in 2008, Knicks great Patrick Ewing signaled out Saunders for his help in keeping him healthy. Saunders says his relationship with Ewing goes way beyond the court and the locker room.
"We spent a lot of time together, not just doing physical therapy and athletic training but talking man to man and father to father."
Saunders and his wife Sue have two children. His son Jeff is a Scouting Operations Assistant with the Miami Heat.
On this edition of SportsJam, Saunders, who now lives in Delray Beach, Florida, shares stories about sports legends Larry Bird and Ted Williams.
Life Sentence contains 680 quotes in all and one of Mike's favorites comes from Jackie Robinson, "A life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives." Saunders admits he's much more than a basketball lover.
"Baseball was my first passion, my first love and continues to be a love of mine. I think my fascination with baseball is how it's part of American society and how it's woven into our culture."
Former Lakers, Knicks and Heat coach Pat Riley has several quotes in Life Sentence and with good reason. Saunders spent plenty of time on the bench working with the Hall of Fame coach at Madison Square Garden. Riley also won an NBA championship with the Lakers as a player.
"Pat is the most competitive person I know."
Please listen to the end of the show to find out how to purchase the book.
You can SEE my entire SportsJam conversation with Mike Saunders here.