Tex Winter, pioneer of triangle offense, dies at 96

Former coach Fred “Tex” Winter, who pioneered the triangle offense that propelled the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships, died Wednesday at the age of 96, the Bulls confirmed.

Winter began his coaching career as an assistant at Kansas State in 1947 before a two-year stint at Marquette, where he became the youngest coach in major college basketball at the age of 30.

He later returned to Kansas State, where he served as head coach for 15 years and led the Wildcats to two Final Four appearances in six NCAA tournament trips.

Winter made the leap to the NBA in 1971, serving as head coach of the Houston Rockets for two seasons. He was hired to an assistant coaching position with Chicago in 1985 by general manager Jerry Krause, teaming with head coach Phil Jackson to guide the Michael Jordan-led Bulls to NBA titles in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998.

“Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game,” the Bulls said in a statement. “He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached everyday. Those of us who were lucky enough to play for him will always respect his devotion to the game of basketball. His contributions to the Bulls organization will always be remembered.”

In 1999, Winter followed Jackson to Los Angeles, where the triangle became the cornerstone of a Lakers team that won three championships from 2000-02.

He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, his eighth time on the final ballot.

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