Tex knew more about the history of the game and the fundamentals of the game than anybody he had ever met in his life.”
Thus was how Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams told head Warriors’ head bench tactician Steve Kerr by way of paying tribute to Tex Winters, author of the now widely-practiced triangle offense in basketball, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 96.
The same triangle offense that helped the Chicago Bulls and he Los Angeles Lakers win a combined nine NBA championships and earned for him induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Winters was a consultant of coach Phil Jackson in that Bulls and Lakers’ victory run before his duties were reduced after suffering stroke April 2009.
The man touched so many in the NBA community with his teaching, prompting many tributes, including Kerr himself, who spoke in as much detail as Winter’s observations about the game.
Kerr said Winter “changed his life” when he played for the Bulls (1993-1998).
“He didn’t care about anything other than execution,” Kerr said. “He didn’t care about stars. He didn’t care about status. He didn’t care about anything other than just executing the play.”
Kerr said that Winter often yelled at Bulls coach Phil Jackson about needing to sub Kerr for star Michael Jordan. “He’s the only guy who ever uttered the words, ‘Phil, get Michael out of there, put Kerr in! He literally said that many times. He said we’re not running the offense. ‘Phil, get Michael out of there. Put Kerr in for me!’”
When Kerr’s teammates looked at him, Kerr often responded, “Don’t look at me; he said it,” pointing to Winters. “He was a stickler for offensive execution, He taught me an awful lot about basketball and I learned a lot about his life, too.”
The words, not surprisingly, drew applause from the partisan crowd. At halftime, of the Lakers-Warriors pre-season game in Las Vegas. Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman presented Lakers president of basketball operations and luminary Magic Johnson with the keys to the city on “Magic Johnson Day.”
When Johnson took the microphone, he shared a dream, saying, “I hope one day Las Vegas gets an NBA team,” to the roaring the applause of the crowd.
“They’re building the stadiums to get ready for it. With the hockey team and WNBA team that is here and Raiders coming in soon, they’re setting themselves up to have an NBA team,” James said. “But I don’t know if it’s now or 10 years from now.”
The NBA doesn’t have any imminent plans to expand its 30-league team though or allow a team to relocate. Instead, Commissioner Adam Silver considers it a priority to ensure competitive balance in the league.
The NBA considers Las Vegas an attractive venue. It has hosted Summer League there since 2004 and expanded from six teams to all 30. The Lakers also hosted preseason games annually since 2012 and also held games 16 other times in 1988, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
It appears likely, though, the NBA would first add a team in Seattle and then in Vancouver. The former Seattle SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after spending 41 years in that Washington State City. The former Grizzlies were an expansion NBA team in 1996 and were relocated to Memphis.
“You can say that about a lot of cities. A lot of cities enjoy basketball. They can be pushing for their team in their market,” said Warriors’ Kevin Durant, who has publicly vouched for Seattle to have an NBA team since playing for them as a rookie in 2007-08.
“But I feel like the NBA is in a great place. Obviously this Vegas market is booming and it’s huge. But I just feel like you can say that about so many greats cities around the US that want an NBA team.”
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