Fast Break Thoughts: Tex Winter Appreciation Day

Darius Soriano —  August 12, 2011

Today, we pay tribute to Tex Winter as he receives the long overdue honor of being inducted into the pro basketball Hall of Fame. Tex’s contributions to the game go beyond his short time with the Lakers, but I claim him as one of our own anyway. He came to the Lakers with Phil Jackson, instituting the Triangle offense that led to three consecutive championships. His teachings have endured beyond his time behind the Laker bench to help claim two additional titles as mainstays Kobe and Fisher give him credit to this day. He’s a basketball lifer and we, as Laker fans, were lucky that his path crossed ours a little over a decade ago. Congrats Tex, you certainly earned it. Now onto the links…

When I first started this site, my goal was to demystify the triangle and explain the basics of the offense.  As time passed, it became clearer to me that the real importance of the blog was to show that the triangle wasn’t some magical system for winning championships. The triangle is a philosophy of basketball whose format is dependent on the execution of simple fundamentals that can be applied to any team that seeks to play unified basketball.  As the triangle’s time in the NBA seems to be coming to an end, it’s fitting that its architect will finally be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after six decades of service to teaching the game of basketball.  To the man who helped me learn how to throw a proper chest pass I can only say thank you, and congratulations.

Darius Soriano

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28 responses to Fast Break Thoughts: Tex Winter Appreciation Day

  1. Totally unrelated, but they showed Game 2 of the 1991 Western Semis on NBA.TV last night… damn that was a fun Lakers team. Deep, and very versatile. And then Jerry West addressed their one real need — backup PG — over the summer, which meant the Lakers would be locked and loaded for the 1991-92 season. Until a doctor looked at someone’s blood test results…

    Hard to believe we’re coming up on 20 years since Nov. 7, 1991. Glad to see Magic’s still alive, kicking and grinning.

  2. Thinking of Tex makes me wonder if his absence, even in a consulting role, had any effect on Phil’s ummmm …. sub par coaching last season. When Phil hit Gasol in the Dallas game, I was shocked to see Phil lose his cool in that manner. Perhaps not having a firey Tex around to yell at the players, to offset Phil’s normal calmness, contributed to Phil lashing out in such an uncharacteristic manner? Everyone on Phil’s coaching staff seems to mimic Phil’s Zen attitude, and Tex was always the one guy to balance that Zen with some fire and emotion, especially when the players were struggling. This team seemingly lost that fire last season, and I wonder if a healthy Tex, even at his age, would have been able to light that fire on this team?

  3. Hmmm….11 championships total!
    Seems pretty magical to me. The most successful offense ever ran in the NBA.

    I think it is a bit premature to say that the offense is going away. It still works very well if you have the players to run it and coaches who understand it. The problem is the Lakers don’t have the ideal personnel for the system with this current team. With players not staying in college and truly learning basketball then what you have is an offense that is too complex for them to grasp.
    So, in that aspect maybe you are correct. Lost in all the Mavs hoopla is that EURO ball now rules…jacking up jumpers and no post game….ugh!
    I cannot even watch the NBA if that is the way it is going to be going forward.

  4. @2 – I agree across the board. Tex’s passion was sorely missed.

  5. Darius, great post about Tex. After going through all of the links, he had a magnificent career for sure. I did not know how far back in time his coaching career was, I just remember the recent times of Chicago and the Lakers. The sweet 11 NBA Championships that you have to give some credit to the Triangle Offence in helping to provide to those teams. Of course, the two superstars also contributed, but mixing them with his offence was a great combination indeed.

  6. An offense system, like the triangle, will never die, because it’s an idea, and ideas will never die; they just take a break.

    If there’s no team in the NBA that runs the triangle, the idea is still there, just waiting for some team to embrace it and benefit from it.

    Some teams, with, chemistry but no stars, can really benefit from the triangle system. I was always surprised that the triangle won so many championships with big stars on it (MJ & Kobe). I always thought it could be a killer system for a team with chemistry, having a star or not.

    Well deserved, Tex! Hope to see the triangle being used on another team.


  7. Footnote on the HOF ceremony: Rodman talked a lot about four father figures in his life (Rodman’s own dad bailed early):

    Phil Jackson
    Chuck Daly
    James Rich (think this is a guy who raised him)
    Jerry Buss

    I was not aware than Rodman had a relationship with Buss.

    Winter looked very alert and in good health.

  8. Rodman being Rodman. Strange he would mention Buss as a father figure considering how disruptive Worm was during his brief stay with the Lakers.

    But there you go …

  9. Did you see the speech Winters kid made? I thought Tex was the one who had a stroke.

  10. @8 – my recollection is that Rodman and Buss had a friendship that both predated the Lakers experiment and continued after. Buss supported the hiring of Rodman and went along with firing him when it didn’t work out. Still they would hang out in Las Vegas and Buss would offer support and friendship in ways that had nothing to do with basketball. It’s really too bad that things didn’t work with the Lakers though… I remember watching Dennis’s first few games with the team and he was terrific – snagging boards, throwing outlet passes, etc.. Unfortunately he was drinking a lot and heading off to Vegas when he was supposed to be with the team. It’s strange that his friendship with Buss was so linked with Vegas misadventures that would ultimately undermine his playing days… I guess it’s part and parcel to who he is.

  11. Rodman’s dad surfaced in the 90s, in the Philippines, I think. It turns out that he’s had at least 47 children, and his name is Philander.

    I’ve always loved that.

  12. @ Aaron

    Yeah–Ric Bucher at ESPN called him out a little on how bad the speech was. All the other speeches were good, particularly Goose Tatum’s son’s and Chris Mullin’s.

    Rodman mentioned the 47 kids in his speech. I was not aware of that, and I think it explains a little bit about why Rodman is the way he is.

  13. @9 & @12 – I agree that Chris Winter’s speech wasn’t a “good” one in any kind of traditional sense, but I think it came from the heart. I hear that he’s been a good son, has taken care of his dad during challenging circumstances and I think he was trying to do a good speech… he just seems like a really quirky guy and it came out rambling and odd. And that’s okay.

  14. 13,

    Dave, there are some people who are not used to public speaking or may have stage fright, I did not watch Chris Winter’s speech though read some portion of his speech. There is some truth too on what he said about Phil and this idea may have came from Tex himself. It goes like this:

    ” Phil is stepping down again. He says he feels like he’s losing touch. It’s another last dance, a last tango. When Dad was Phil’s age, he started a whole new 20-year career. Tex would probably say to Phil and everyone out there that there’s really no rest in the world. If you have something to offer, offer it. It’s not that Tex really ever believed he belonged in here. He just really didn’t believe in sitting on his backside. That’s all there to it.” – LA Times 8/13

    The delivery may be awful but the essence of his message was powerful. My interpretation – Phil is a quitter at a very ripe age. Tex does not belonged to NBA’s limelight of money and power. He became famous on the backside by offering his triangle idea which produced several Championships as it was implemented by a good Coach. Unfortunately, awareness or awards for the inventor came too late, Tex is no longer actively present to describe his work in this Hall of Fame setting.

  15. With regards to Dennis Rodman, the recognition was just tremendous jolt to him that resulted in pouring his emotions with sincere apology to everyone. For some people, it is difficult to accept a colorful subject like Rodman and hard to understand a perennial Showman. However, for a big guy with tattoos and errings, he effectively seized the moment in declaring to the basketball world that despite the recognition of his basketball talents, he was a failure as a son, as a husband and as a father of his children, what else can Dennis say or do to gain admiration?

  16. Edwin,
    I agree – the actual content had meaning. And, I didn’t mind the delivery as much as some did. As far as Phil and retirement, I think he lives in constant physical pain. I have no doubt that he’d continue to coach if his body would allow it.

  17. Re: Rodman – just great, spellbinding. I’m glad he had Phil up there to help him get through it.

  18. Chris Winter’s speech didn’t mess up the moment. The key to the moment was that Tex Winter was up there with him.

    But C. Winter could have, and perhaps should have, prepared what he was going to say, rehearsed, edited, etc. It seemed he chose not to and tried to wing it–which is hard to do if one is not a natural performer, like, for example, Dennis Rodman.

  19. I caught Chris Winter’s speech live on NBA TV, the message was what really caught my attention, his delivery was what could be expected from someone with a physics background, I guess. PJ would continue on if his body would let him, the Lakers as constructed now, are good for at least three more championship runs, and I am sure that he knows that. Rodman was just Rodman, and I am glad he was inducted.

  20. I too was aghast at Chris Winter’s speech, but I admire him for his love and care of his father. I’ll take someone like him, who may not be polished for the limelight, but apparently is the real deal with his father. I think knowing Tex, his son’s speech encapsulated the essence of Tex: No BS, just the real stuff. In a sense, it was poetic. (Even though Tex repeatedly said, “let’s go…”).

  21. Darius,
    Wow… Congrats on headlining the ESPN NBA Page… At least for this very moment. That’s so cool.

  22. #21. I wish I could have gotten a better look at my sweek Lakers Dynasty tee. You know, the one that reads:

    AC &


  23. Hahah… You need to take a screen shot and make a t-shirt of that

  24. #23. I’m not so sure I want to do that. Hahaha. Let’s just say I was not at my best after dealing with the new baby with little sleep this past weekend. Any thoughts on the clip, though?

  25. It was you in a reality TV style confessional clip… That it really hard to do, seriously… And you pulled it off. You were comfortable and professional. As far as the content… anything that isn’t digging on Derek, boasting on Bynum, or speculating on Kobe’s possible HGH Germany run isn’t going to excite me 😉 I mean if your only audience is me you could have dropped some football (soccer) chatter in there. That Real Madrid/Barca game yesterday was awesome.

  26. Darius, what a cool interview, and I liked your attitude in it. Yeah, we could not see your tee in it, certainly it should be offered on this site. I liked how how you talked about how the Lakers came back after the loss to the Celtics, we got two more Championships after that loss, so maybe we are good for two more back-to-backs this time around.

  27. The Only issue I had with that statement was the cause and effect. Did the Lakers win two more championships after the Boston loss because they re focused and rested? Or is it more likley they won because they played a flawed Orlando team and a old Celtics team all the while replacing VladRad in the starting lineup with Ariza/Artest and brought in a true Center in Andrew Bynum who was in street clothes in 08.