Former head basketball coach of the Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers- Phil Jackson appeared on the PBS Charlie Rose T.V. show last night and gave high praise to Tex Winter for Jackson’s success in winning “Eleven Rings” which is the title of his newly released book.
Rose asked, “Where is your competence as a coach- is it X’s and O’s?
Jackson said, “I was not an X and O person or knew the technical aspects of basketball until I worked with Tex Winter and Johnny Bach when I first started as an assistant for the Chicago Bulls under head coach Doug Collins.”
“Tex provided the west coast approach to the game and Bach the east coach philosophy,” Jackson said. “I went to graduate school under Tex and Johnny and they were the ones who got me reading basketball coaching books from the 1940’s and 50’s and exposed me to a wide range of technical knowledge.”
Rose was intrigued as to what changed when Jackson adopted the Triangle offense. “Back in the 70’s everyone was using one guard to bring up the ball but Tex showed me the value of using a two guard front which provided a wide variety of options to break down a defense,” said Jackson.
Jackson explained that under Doug Collins, Jordon was used to bring up the ball and then the entire offense revolved around him- and by the end of the game Jordon was worn out. When Jackson took over after Collins left, he and Tex convinced Jordon that they would build a new system where he still played a major role but it would allow other players to get involved.
That system was the Triangle offense.
“The new Triangle system allowed opportunities for all the players,” said Jackson. “We had Rodman as a rebounder, Kerr as our three point shooter, Pippen as a driver, our big men inside and Jordon as our go to player when needed.”
Jackson then described basketball in general as a science and art unlike any other sport in the game.
He said, “It’s a connection of human beings who need to understand where everyone is on the court at all times.”
(Editorial- by L. Weigel insert)…Tex is the master of spacing, ball movement and teaching each player to know where to go and what moves are needed on offense based on what their defender is doing at all times. The offense must work like a hand with five fingers and if one finger (a player) fails to execute at the appropriate time, the entire system breaks down. In my opinion, that’s why few coaches try to make the Triangle work -but it was Jackson & Winter’s genius in tandem that made it happen in the NBA.
Jackson and Rose interview continued….below
Jackson compared basketball to Jazz where the performer has an opportunity to improvise when needed, pick up the beat and establish a rhythm and flow throughout a performance.
“A super star alone is not going to get you there,” said Jackson. Jackson made reference to his new book and answered other questions, but the key message during the interview was his tribute to Tex for introducing a team effort approach to the game that led to 11 NBA championships.
So if you read the book, “Phil Jackson-Eleven Rings-The Soul of Success”, remember it was our Tex Winter who was the game changer by bringing his concepts to the banquet table and the wisdom of Phil Jackson to listen and learn along the way- and then use them as his “soul” to success.
Tex Winter showing his 2002 LA Laker Championship ring. He has ten. Phil got #11 after Tex retired. (Picture taken by L. Weigel)