Tex Winter

Last updated
Tex Winter
Tex Winter Marqette.jpg
Winter with Marquette in 1953
Biographical details
Born(1922-02-25)February 25, 1922
near Wellington, Texas
DiedOctober 10, 2018(2018-10-10) (aged 96)
Manhattan, Kansas
Playing career
1940–1942 Compton JC
1942–1943 Oregon State
1946–1947 USC
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1947–1951 Kansas State (assistant)
1951–1953 Marquette
1953–1968Kansas State
1968–1971 Washington
1971–1973 Houston Rockets
1973–1978 Northwestern
1978–1983 Long Beach State
19851999 Chicago Bulls (assistant)
19992004 Los Angeles Lakers (assistant)
Head coaching record
Overall453–334 (college)
51–78 (NBA)
Accomplishments and honors
As coach:

As assistant coach:

As consultant:

Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2011
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2010

Morice Fredrick "Tex" Winter (February 25, 1922 – October 10, 2018) was an American basketball coach and innovator of the triangle offense. [1] He was a head coach in college basketball for 30 years before becoming an assistant coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was an assistant to Phil Jackson on nine NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. Winter was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.


Early life

Winter was born near Wellington, Texas (a fact which later provided him with his nickname when his family moved to California) 15 minutes after twin sister Mona Francis. The Winter family moved to Lubbock, Texas in 1929, where his mechanic father died of an infection when Tex was ten years old. Winter had to work while in elementary school to help his family, one such job was to collect boxes for a local baker in exchange for day-old bread. In 1936, Winter and his sister moved to Huntington Park, California with their mother, who would work as a clothing store sales manager. His older football star brother Ernest remained in Texas to finish high school while his older sister Elizabeth had already married and moved to California first and encouraged them to move there. While attending Huntington Park High School, Winter worked with Phil Woolpert and Pete Newell as a ball boy for Loyola University.

After graduation from high school in 1940, Winter attended college at Compton Junior College for two years, where he became a renowned pole vaulter and earned a scholarship to Oregon State University. He was on the basketball and track teams at both schools. As a pole vaulter, Winter competed against Bob Richards, a 1948 and 1952 olympian. He was considered a strong candidate for the US Olympic team in 1944, but the Olympics were cancelled by World War II.

Winter met his wife Nancy at Oregon State. Both of them entered the United States Navy in early 1943, with Winter going into fighter pilot training and his wife into WAVES. [2] After his pilot's wings were conferred he was assigned to fighter pilot duty in the Pacific. However, his orders were rescinded after his brother's plane was shot down, and Winter remained at Naval Air Station Glenview in Illinois for the duration of the war. After the war, he was assigned to NAS Corpus Christi as a test pilot for an experimental jet craft. While in the navy, Winter was a starting guard for his basketball team under the commanding officer Chuck Taylor. [3] He left the Navy with the rank of Ensign in 1946.

Winter returned to college after the war at the University of Southern California, where he learned the triangle offense from his coach Sam Barry. At USC, Winter became an All-American pole vaulter and was a teammate of Bill Sharman, Alex Hannum, and Gene Rock, future professional basketball players.

College coaching career

After graduating college in 1947, Winter immediately entered the coaching profession as an assistant to Hall-of-Famer Jack Gardner at Kansas State University. He would work as a basketball coach for the next 61 years.

In 1952, Winter began a two-year stint as head coach at Marquette University, becoming the youngest coach in major college basketball. In 1954 Winter returned to Kansas State. [4] [5] Winter served as Kansas State's head coach for the following 15 years, posting a 261-118 (.689) record. He still owns the record for most league titles (eight) in school history and twice led the Wildcats to the Final Four (1958 and 1964). Winter guided K-State to postseason play seven times overall, including six trips to the NCAA Tournament, and boasts one of the highest winning percentages in K-State's history.

Winter was named UPI National Coach of the Year in 1958 after he led Kansas State to the Final Four by knocking off Oscar Robertson and second-ranked Cincinnati in an 83-80 double-overtime thriller. Junior center Bob Boozer was one of three Wildcats to be named a first team All-America, along with teammates Jack Parr and Roy DeWitz. K-State advanced to their fourth Final Four in 1964. Winter's Wildcats knocked off Texas Western and Wichita State to reach Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri. Two-time Big Eight selection Willie Murrell averaged 25.3 points per game during the run, which ended in a 90-82 loss to eventual national champion UCLA.

In 1962, Winter also wrote the book, entitled The Triple-Post Offense, on the triangle offense – the offense which he utilized with such success at Kansas State. Following his leaving Kansas State to his assistant Cotton Fitzsimmons, Winter also served as head coach at the University of Washington (where he was hired by then Athletic Director Joseph Kearney), Northwestern University (1973-1978), and Long Beach State. In 1982, LSU's Dale Brown, who Winter befriended when Brown was a high school coach, hired him as an assistant for one year 1983-84. [6] In 30 years as a college head coach, Winter compiled a career record of 453–334. [7]

Professional coaching

Winter in 2009 Tex Winter.jpg
Winter in 2009

Winter was hired by Pete Newell as head coach of the Houston Rockets for two seasons, 19711973, posting a 51–78 (.395) record.

In 1985, Winter started another chapter of his life after contemplating retirement, serving as an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls, and teaching the triangle offense to Michael Jordan. He was hired to the position by General Manager Jerry Krause, an old friend he had met while at Kansas State. As an assistant to Phil Jackson, who took over as the Bulls' head coach in 1989, Winter and his ball-movement offense were an integral part of the Bulls' NBA championships in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998. [7] Winter followed Jackson to the Los Angeles Lakers. Led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers won three championships using the triangle system in 2000, 2001, and 2002. [7] Winter was also a consultant for the NBA champion 2008–09 Los Angeles Lakers team. [8]

Health and death

On April 25, 2009, Winter suffered a stroke in Manhattan, Kansas, while attending a Kansas State basketball reunion. [9]

He lived near Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas with his Alzheimer's-stricken wife [10] and son Brian. He suffered from the after-effects of his 2009 stroke, counting an uncooperative right side and nerve pain in his neck and shoulder. [11] He has two other sons, Russ and Chris.

Winter died on October 10, 2018 at the age of 96. [12]

Awards and honors

Winter is a member of several halls of fame, including the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame, and he was awarded the John Bunn Award for lifetime achievement from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. [13] In June 2010, he was given the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award by the NBA Coaches Association. [14] On his eighth time on the final ballot for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, it was announced on April 2, 2011, that Winter had been elected. He was formally inducted on August 12, with his Boston-based physicist son Chris giving a speech in his behalf. [15]

On May 26, 2012, Winter was inducted into the Compton Community College Athletics Hall of Fame, under the category of Basketball.

Head coaching record


Statistics overview
Marquette Golden Eagles (Independent)(1951–1953)
1951–52 Marquette12–14
Marquette:25–25 (.500)
Kansas State Wildcats (Big Seven / Big Eight Conference)(1953–1968)
1953–54Kansas State11–105–7T–4th
1954–55Kansas State11–106–6T–3rd
1955–56 Kansas State17–89–31st NCAA Sweet 16
1956–57 Kansas State15–88–42nd
1957–58 Kansas State 22–510–21st NCAA University Division Final Four
1958–59 Kansas State 25–214–01st NCAA University Division Elite Eight
1959–60Kansas State16–1010–4T–1st
1960–61Kansas State22–5*13–1*1st NCAA University Division Elite Eight
1961–62Kansas State22–312–22nd
1962–63Kansas State16–911–3T–1st
1963–64 Kansas State 22–712–21st NCAA University Division Final Four
1964–65Kansas State12–135–9T–6th
1965–66Kansas State14–119–53rd
1966–67Kansas State17–89–54th
1967–68Kansas State19–911–31st NCAA University Division Sweet 16
Kansas State:261–118 (.689)154–57 (.730)
Washington Huskies (Pacific-8 Conference)(1968–1971)
1968–69 Washington 13–136–84th
1969–70 Washington 17–97–75th
1970–71 Washington 15–136–85th
Washington:45–35 (.563)19–23 (.452)
Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten Conference)(1973–1978)
Northwestern:44–87 (.336)25–61 (.291)
Long Beach State 49ers (Pacific Coast Athletic Association)(1978–1983)
1978–79 Long Beach State16–127–74th
1979–80 Long Beach State22–1211–32nd NIT Second Round
1980–81 Long Beach State15–139–5T–3rd
1981–82 Long Beach State12–167–7T–4th
1982–83 Long Beach State13–166–107th
Long Beach State:78–69 (.531)40–32 (.556)
Total:453–334 (.576)

      National champion        Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion        Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion      Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

*1960–61 record reflects one win by forfeit over Colorado.


Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
Houston 1971–72 823448.4154th in PacificMissed Playoffs
Houston 1972–73 471730.3623rd in Central


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  1. Coffey, Wayne (15 March 2014). "Master Mind: Meet Tex Winter, the man behind Phil Jackson's Triangle offense". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-27. Retrieved 2014-07-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Tex Winter's basketball philosophy and triangle offense products of equal opportunity - Chicago Bulls". nba.com. Archived from the original on 2020-11-18. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  4. ABC News (49): Former K-State basketball star dies at 72; February 22, 2007. accessed on October 2, 2007.
  5. Canada Basketball: Candidates for the 2007 Class of the FIBA Hall of Fame announced; May 25, 2007 Archived February 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine accessed on October 2, 2007.
  6. 1 2 3 Goldstein, Richard (October 10, 2018). "Tex Winter, Brain Behind Basketball's Triangle Offense, Dies at 96". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 18, 2020. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  7. McMenamin, Dave (April 27, 2009). "Lakers rally around ailing "insultant" Tex Winter". NBA.com. Archived from the original on May 4, 2009.
  8. "Lakers guru Winter, 87, suffers apparent stroke". ESPN.com. 25 April 2009. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  9. PLASCHKE, BILL (15 July 2009). "Lakers legend Tex Winter needs to be encircled with care". Archived from the original on 12 August 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014 via LA Times.
  10. "Meet the man behind Phil's Triangle offense". nydailynews.com. Archived from the original on 2020-11-18. Retrieved 2014-03-18.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2020-11-18. Retrieved 2018-10-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Topeka Capital-Journal: College Hall to induct Tex; February 24, 2010. Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine accessed on February 25, 2010
  13. Lopresti, Mike (6 June 2010). "Tex Winter, of triangle offense fame, basks in recognition". USA Today. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  14. "Tex Winter cuts off his son's horrible Hall speech". ocregister.com. 15 August 2011. Archived from the original on 18 November 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2014.

Further reading