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NBA: Winter, innovative coach, dead at 96

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter receives his NBA championship ring during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles. At rear is NBA Commissioner David Stern. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas, File)

Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Tex Winter receives his NBA championship ring during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles. At rear is NBA Commissioner David Stern. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas, File)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Tex Winter, the innovative “Triangle Offense” pioneer who assisted Phil Jackson on NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, has died. He was 96.

Winter’s family said he died Wednesday in Manhattan, where he began his coaching career at Kansas State in 1947 and led the Wildcats to two Final Fours and eight Big Seven/Eight titles as head coach from 1954-68.

“I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game,” Michael Jordan said in a statement emailed to the Chicago Tribune. “His triangle offense was a huge part of our six championships with the Bulls. He was a tireless worker. Tex was always focused on details and preparation and a great teacher. I was lucky to play for him. My condolences to his family.”

Winter published “The Triple-Post Offense” in 1962 and teamed with Jackson to use the system to great success with Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Winter assisted Jackson on championship teams with the Bulls in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998, and the Lakers in 2000, 2001, 2002. He was a consultant with Los Angeles’ 2009 title team, and the Lakers also won in 2010.

“Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game,” said Bulls President John Paxson, a former player under Winter. “He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached every day.

“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.”

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011, Winter spent more than six decades in coaching.

“On behalf of the entire Lakers organization, I’d like to express our sadness at the passing of Tex Winter,” Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. “Tex helped lead the team to four NBA championships and was a mentor to many of our coaches and players. In addition to his numerous contributions to the game of basketball.

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