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Lakers learned plenty from Tex Winter


Only moments prior to the Lakers' 2001 championship parade, Tex Winter approached Kobe Bryant and a number of his teammates.

He made no small talk about the upcoming festivities, gave zero praise for individual performances and offered no congratulations for securing a back-to-back title. Instead he fixated on something so minutely detailed, it left plenty of the Lakers wondering why Winter would bring this up just as they were about to celebrate securing a title.

"We're all sitting around and he's talking about us not making fundamentally correct chess passes," Bryant recalled, drawing a few laughs from reporters. "He was serious. We all started laughing. He couldn't understand why we were laughing. That's just Tex."

Bryant shared that anecdote out of admiration for Winter's tendency "not going to sugarcoat anything," as Bryant put it, neither showing a hesitancy to criticize a player's performance or even Phil Jackson. Everyone ranging from Jackson, Bryant and to assistant coach Jim Cleamons argued Winter's induction this year to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame was long overdue mainly because his role in teaching the triangle offense proved instrumental in all of their development. And Winter did so with his unrestrained honesty.

Jackson had been said Winter's triangle passed down from Sam Berry somewhat emulated the offense during his playing days with the New York Knicks, but it wasn't until Jackson arrived in Chicago as the team's head coach in 1989. It was then that Winter taught him in more detail the intricacies of the triangle offense and how to coach it. In turn, Jackson convinced an initially reluctant team, led by Michael Jordan, to embrace an offense predicated to players reacting to situations and allowing their ball movement to expose defensive weaknesses. After Winter was an assistant on Jackson's staff for all six title runs with Chicago and the Lakers' three-peat from 1999-2002, Winter, 89, then became a part-time consultant with the Lakers after Jackson was fired following the 2003-04 season. He then stepped back from his duties after suffering a stroke in April 2009. Still to this day, Jackson uses the set drills Winter helped him install, a huge reason why he's won 11 championships.

"We had a relationship that went very deep, Tex and I simply because I wasn't a very good coach," Jackson conceded during his early years with Chicago. "I didn't have a lot of knowledge and he had a lot of knowledge."

With Winter's willingness to share his expertise also came his willingness to share his unfiltered feedback. Jackson lumped his mother and Winter as the only two people who consistently directly criticize him. Jackson also couldn't think of any superstar player other than Scottie Pippen that frustrated Winter for deviating from the triangle.

"He was the mind of the basketball gods," Jackson said. "If you played against the rules of the game, he's going to comment to you or comment to me in hopes I would comment to the players later on. He got frustrated with players at times. Michael Jordan was said he couldn't pass the ball right; Shaq who didn't take coaching very easily or Kobe who overpenetrated or handled the ball too long so the offense didn't run right."

"I've been next to him on the bench and he's telling Phil, 'You're coaching like ...," Bryant said, laughing. "He'll tell me, 'You're playing like ...He doesn't pull any punches whatsoever."

That's why it shouldn't be surprising Winter would've berated the Lakers following their 95-90 loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets, a game that lacked any cohesive ball movement whatsoever. Whether it would've been a poorly performed game in Denver or even following a Lakers championship, Winter simply wanted the game to be played the right way.

"I miss his presence because he epitomizes what a teacher and a coach should be," Cleamons said. "He's honest. When he talks to you about his game, oftentimes he'll say he's not criticizing the player, he's talking about the act."

--Mark Medina

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Photo: The Lakers' Tex Winter in 2001. Credit: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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"pivot".......there was footage of the start of the Laker's training camp, they were running very basic was come to a stop, pivot (figure out which was your pivot foot), pass to another player who would take a few dribbles, stop, pivot, pass....some of the new players were looking bored because this was so basic, other teams on the first day of training camp were already playing full court, the play looked sloppy...the Lakers were just going over stop, figure out which foot is your pivot foot, and what your options are at that point...Phil was honest, that's how he started the Laker's training camp.......

@MM - Good piece on Tex. Nice to hear Phil speak in such glowing terms and also mention Holzman and Zeke.


Congrats to Tex, talk about LONG OVERDUE!!!!!!

Cruddy game last night, but I just knew that the Nuggs would give us trouble. The only thing that matters though is Drew/Pau to be alright. That's all that matters.

HC vs the Spurs would be nice, but we should win in 5 or at worst 6 either way. HC vs the Celts looks somewhat unnecessary given their mounting frontcourt problems. We should be able to dominate the Bulls with our depth at the 4/5 vs them. The lecheats don't have the bigs to win a 7-game series vs the Lakers, if they even reach the Finals.

It's possible that the hardest matchup the Lakers might face in this playoffs is the Thunder. They just match up real well with us, and the physical, defensive presence Perk/Ibaka/Mohammed gives them can cause us some troubles.

HCA would be nice, but let's not kid ourselves, the Lakers shouldn't go all-out trying to achieve it, it's more important that the rest up heading into the 'real' season...

- - -

Justa: Welcome back and CONGRATS for winning the FBB league! Nice goin, and I remember you complaining about some of your draft picks after the draft... Thinking back I think you were setting us all up all along! You had this championship in the bag from day one!

BTW Cali, congrats for losing the losers bracket. Much like the NIT winner, you can proudly call yourself the 7th best of our league! lol... (hey, I should be talking, I came in 8th!)

OK all fantasy league losers, I'm rounding up a bunch of crows and baking them into humble pies. We can all toast Justa as we take big bites. mmmm.....


Haven't been around for a week, did I miss anything? Not planning on playing catchup if not...

Tex was always mindful of the basketball gods and of the RIGHT way to play. In an NBA obsessed with individual skills and physical gifts, he always focused on on team play and playing the RIGHT. The result has been a lot of titles.

I have a hard time worrying about Sunday's loss. As I said before the game (though I cited players who didn't play), this is the kind of team that is hard on the Lakers. Athletic, deep, physical, hustling teams that try to create chaos. Like Houston in the playoffs 2 years. Or Portland most years. Just not a type of team the Lakers play well against.

And, besides, you are going to lose more than 1 game after the all star break. The Lakers were flat against Utah and it didn't matter. Against a tough team like this, with the refs letting a lot of contact go, it matters.

On to Tuesday.

LOL Cyber - thanks!! I can't believe I won the whole thing.... crazy.

I gotta thank phred for helping me out - thanks phred!

From Day 1, my only goal was to NOT come in last - I'd say mission accomplished LOL!!!!

So - I'd like to thank all the little people who made this day possible for me. I'll provide the A-1 so your crow tastes a little yummier.


I miss Tex also.

Since Kobe said Tex would never shy away from criticizing a player or Phil, let me offer this “real talk” in the spirit of Tex regarding yesterday’s game….

Phil - put Drew in to secure the rebound….sheesh!

Pau - you gotta be more aggressive because 10 shots aren’t enough. Look to score when you get the ball and quit deferring so much. Plus, 4 turnovers ain’t going to get it done…especially two in the last 4-5 minutes.

Kobe – 10 for 27 ain’t getting it done. Quit looking for the refs to bail you out and make your shots.

Ron – Mediocre D on Gallo and bad shooting = poor game.

Drew – Get your nutrients so you can play with the necessary energy. You have to move better to get the rock… and quit turning it over on inbounds passes.

LO – bball 101…box out already and make your free throws. 67% from the line is beneath you.

Shannon – Get it together man. Your floor game has gone from mediocre to bad recently. FYI…you are allowed to feed Drew on that sideline series where he picks for you.
Okay now that I've got my Tex like vent out of the way let me say 17-2 is very impressive. Keep up the good work and #17 is on the way!

The fact Tex Winter is not in the basketball HOF at present is almost criminal. This man is to the NBA what John Wooden was to college. By that I am specifically referring the the direct influence on the overall game, as played by overyone at that level, universally. This is not a coaching competition I speak of. Rather, I am only talking about influencing the way the game is played. At this point, nearly every team in the NBA runs some offensive scheme, at times, that directly references the triangle.

Coaches come and go. But how many people really, actually influence the way the game is everyone? This is exactly why Tex not only should be in the HOF, but is the walking embodiment of the HOF.

1. FINALLY Tex Winters is getting his due recognition.

2. Bad loss yesterday.

3. We lost because the game started at 12:30PM. We don't play well in early games nor on holidays for some reason.

4. What is up with Lamar Odom not boxing out for critical rebounds with the game on the line?

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


Good points LRob. That constructive criticism is all 100% accurate.

Either Stern didn't want the Lakers to win that game for some reason, or the refs were betting against us. Terrible, pivotal calls down the stretch.

Kobe fouled on a baseline jumper to tie it up, no call.

Fisher and L.O. trap Felton, L.O. ties up the ball, and no jump ball call.

Martin shoves Lamar in the back for the rebound tip-in, no call.


Okay now that I've got my Tex like vent out of the way let me say 17-2 is very impressive. Keep up the good work and #17 is on the way!

Posted by: LRob | April 04, 2011 at 09:58 AM

great post.
are you insinuating that Tex was a Glass Half Empty guy?
or just a self-reflection? :-)

Nice goin' phred, you created a monster!

A-1 on crow pie? Aww thanks justa. Gotta say it sounds like something a Brit would eat. Like really go in a restaurant in the UK and order off a menu and eat. Cheerio!

ps: I've learned to pluck the crow before cooking, much more palatable! lol...

- - -

LRob: Good job channeling Tex. I think that is exactly why players respected him, he told it just like it is. Kobe especially, they really seemed to have a bond.

Does anyone else see a little bit of that in Brian Shaw? I think B-Shaw's time spent around Tex rubbed off on him, I really hope so if he does succeed Phil...

- - -

Great article, apologies if it was posted here previously:


Tex will live forever in the hearts and minds of basketball's collective concience...all who coach or play have benefitted from his contributions.

"Either Stern didn't want the Lakers to win that game for some reason, or the refs were betting against us. Terrible, pivotal calls down the stretch.

Kobe fouled on a baseline jumper to tie it up, no call.

Fisher and L.O. trap Felton, L.O. ties up the ball, and no jump ball call.

Martin shoves Lamar in the back for the rebound tip-in, no call.


Posted by: mclyne | April 04, 2011 at 10:19 AM "

There was plenty of that going both ways. I can't put it on the officiating. Here are a few of the plays I remember that make it hard to say the refs were trying to give it to Denver.

Kobe misses the rim and the Lakers should get a shot clock violation but refs rule the ball hit the rim. Lakers score 2 points.

Fisher pushes his defender away so he can take a wide open 3. Lakers score 3 points.

Lawson called for a weird offensive foul. Lakers take the ball down court and make a 3.

Kobe loses the ball out of bounds. Refs rule it went off Denver and give the ball back to the Lakers. Lakers score 2 points.

Gallinari rebounds and Artest pushes him out of bounds causing an errant pass. Lakers score 2 points.

They had their chances to win the game and just didn't get it done. The timeout/jump ball play was the only call that I thought was really bad. I couldn't see on the replay when the timeout was requested but I thought the days of calling timeouts without really having possession were over.

Whoaa! MM, why did u delete my post? OK good day.

>>>Phil - put Drew in to secure the rebound….sheesh!

And risk not having Drew for the playoffs? Really?

>>>Pau - you gotta be more aggressive because 10 shots aren’t enough

Agreed. A couple of Pau's turnovers were passing out when I felt he should have been aggressive and worked for his own shot instead. Too often they GET Pau the ball in the post, and then he passes it back out when he should shoot.

>>>Kobe – 10 for 27 ain’t getting it done.

True. Denver was roughing him up. Dallas and Utah tried the same thing, but Denver was more effective at it. Perhaps the refs were letting a bit more go.

But OTOH, when the 3 bigs (Bynum/Pau/Odom) combined for 10 turnovers, most of which led directly to fast break buckets by the Nugs, and when Artest and Fisher shot a combined 3 for 13, it's not like Kobe passing more would have guaranteed a win either. When the rest of the team is choking that hard, Kobe-ball has as good a chance of winning as anything else.

>>>Ron – Mediocre D on Gallo and bad shooting = poor game.

Yep. Ron-Ron's been pretty stellar lately, but this game was a Mulligan.

>>>Ron – Mediocre D on Gallo and bad shooting = poor game.

Yep. Ron-Ron's been pretty stellar lately, but this game was a Mulligan.

Drew – … and quit turning it over on inbounds passes.

Yep - after he did it the first time I thought he'd be more careful, but then he almost let it happen a second time with another soft pass, while Lawson was bird-dogging Lamar.

>>>LO – bball 101…box out already and make your free throws.

To be fair, in many situations when someone puts two hands in your back and shoves you under the basket, they call it a foul. K-Mart did exactly that to Lamar.

But you can't blame the loss on one play - all the factors combined led to the loss, and the getting shoved out on the boxout wasn't as significant as missing free throws.

>>>Shannon – Get it together man. Your floor game has gone from mediocre to
>>>bad recently. FYI…you are allowed to feed Drew on that sideline series
>>>where he picks for you.

Problem is that Shannon is not a very good passer. If he tries to pass it to Bynum and it's not a WIDE OPEN pass, he's as likely to turn it over as get it to Drew.

And Blake (who's a better passer) turned the ball over once trying to pass the ball into Pau in the post.

That's why I always rebel against the whole, "YOU MUST GET MORE TOUCHES IN THE POST" argument that some people so vehemently argue.

If the other team is sagging off and covering the entry pass (as Denver was), then trying to FORCE passes into the post is playing into their hands. If you're Chris Paul or Deron Williams, then you can probably thread that pass and get away with it, but Shannon Brown and Steve Blake... not so much.

This is one area where Jordan Farmar was actually just a bit better than either Blake or Brown. He was slightly better at feeding the post, and also had the ability to get past his man and get to the rim and either finish or dish to Pau or Drew or Lamar when their defender came over to help on him.


There were missed calls both ways - what about Fish shouldering-off Lawson to get an open 3 (or was it Felton). It's not like every call went the Lakers way.

Very nice piece on Tex. Particularly enjoyed hearing Phil Jackson wax poetic for a whole 10 minutes about how profound Tex Winter's Triangle Offense is on the Lakers success, and how it's so long overdue he be inducted in the Hall of Fame. GREAT STUFF!!



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