Fred “Tex” Winter, basketball innovator and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, died Wednesday. He was 96.
Winter is known as the mastermind of the famed triangle offense that helped win a combined nine NBA championships during his tenure as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Winter began his coaching career in 1947 as an assistant at Kansas State. In 1951, he became coach at Marquette for two seasons before returning to Kansas State in 1953. During Winter’s 15 seasons as K-State coach, the Wildcats made six NCAA tournament appearances and reached the Final Four twice. The 1964 season under Winters remains the school’s last Final Four appearance.
Kansas State University said Winter died Wednesday in Manhattan.
“I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game. His triangle offense was a huge part of our six championships with the Bulls,” Michael Jordan wrote in an emailed statement to the Chicago Tribune. “Tex was always focused on details and preparation and a great teacher. I was lucky to play for him. My condolences to his family.”
Others in the game expressed condolences to Winter’s family.
“On behalf of the entire Lakers organization, I’d like to express our sadness at the passing of Tex Winter,” Jeanie Buss, owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, said in a statement released by the team. “Tex helped lead the team to four NBA Championships and was a mentor to many of our coaches and players.”
Winter published “The Triple-Post Offense” in 1962 and teamed with Jackson to use the system to great success with Jordan and Kobe Bryant, winning NBA championships with Jordan’s Bulls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998, and Bryant’s Lakers in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009 (Winter was a consultant for the Lakers when they won the title in 2009).
Winter was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 after more than six decades in coaching. He was 451-336 as a college head coach at Marquette (1951-53), Kansas State (1954-68), Washington (1969-72), Northwestern (1975-78) and Long Beach State (1978-83). He spent two seasons as coach of the Houston Rockets (1972-74), going 51-78. In 1985 he joined the Bulls and helped alter the game’s history during his more than two decades as an assistant coach.
Contributing: Associated Press