By Ann Parr
This book tells the life story of the remarkable Tex Winter, the creator of the famed Triangle Offense that Phil Jackson rode to 9 titles.
Tex's life story is fascinating. He grew up in the Great Depression and enlisted for military service during WWII, going to aviation school. He became a head coach at age 28. He later coached Kansas State University for 15 years, going 262-117, winning the Big Eight Conference title 8 times and twice making the Final Four, and winning UPI Coach of the year. His 1956 team defeated Kansas coach "Phog" Allen in Allen's final home game. His 1958 team defeated Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas Jayhawks head-to-head and for the conference title. At one point, he was the fourth winningest coach in college basketball. He was also the head coach at Marquette, Washington, Northwestern, Long Beach State, and with the Houston Rockets. He was elected by his peers as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches for 1983. In 1963, he wrote the book "The Triple Post Offense" about the Triangle Offense he created.
He became an assistant for Dale Brown at LSU and then an assistant with the Chicago Bulls. When Phil Jackson became the head coach, he installed Winter's Triangle Offense and won 6 championships in 9 seasons. They won 3 more in 4 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. All in all, Winter has coached in over 2700 games and won over 60% of them.
The book is laid out like both a biography and a scrapbook with numerous interesting asides, photos, quotes from peers and "Tex sayings." It flows well and is a page turner. Winter's experience and longevity alone makes for an interesting story and the author does not detract from it. The weakness is that there are a few factual errors, such as the author said the 1993 Suns and 1998 Jazz won only one game in the Finals -- they won 2 each, and the chronology of the Bulls' rise is consistently off by one season (p. 98 says that Doug Collins was fired after the 1987-88 season (it was 1988-89) and p. 99 says that in the 1989 playoffs, Jordan ignored the Triangle that Jackson and Winter had installed, except Doug Collins was the head coach that year. Jordan did this in 1989-90). This is not uncommon as I can usually find these types of errors in most basketball books that I read.
The other area that some may have problems with is that as far as quotes from others, the author relies too much on quotes from KSU players, along with over proportioned representation from KSU. To that, there are three responses: 1) As head coach, he had his far greatest success there and implemented and mastered his offense. 2) The author is the wife of KSU legend (and former Winter player) Jack Parr, and 3) as a KSU grad, I personally have no problem with this. Nothing is taken away, it just would have been nice to see a little more of what his other players had said, especially NBA players and coaches.
The NBA section isn't as well covered as the college, especially the Lakers section, but it does not take away from the fine telling of the life of this remarkable coach and person.
Finally, I did not give this 5-stars because of the KSU connection. I thought long and hard about the ranking. I have reviewed 16 basketball books this season and this is the 4th 5-star book from that list. I compared to all of the 5's and the 4's and decided it was more comparable to the 5s.
Coach Tex Winter: Triangle Basketball. Ann Parr. NDX Press. 2006.