After the death of legendary Chicago Bulls assistant coach Tex Winter on Wednesday, several of the team’s biggest legends weighed in with emotional tributes to their mentor.
Former Bulls forward Scottie Pippen, who was a member of the six NBA championship teams that Winter was an assistant coach for, paid tribute to Winter on social media, calling him his “biggest critic” and his “biggest fan:”
“Tex Winter was my biggest critic. He was also my biggest fan. A few words about the legendary coach who lived his 96 years as well as anyone could have. Tex was a man of fundamentals. Ball movement + player movement = success. It was never about the individual.
“Without Tex, we may never have won a title. He taught us how to slice and dice our opponents on the defensive end. We had the GOAT, but it was Tex’s knowledge and triangle offense that helped us shred defenses.
“Tex was a perfectionist. He insisted that we execute with energy, passion, and precision. No matter our opponent, he demanded the most out of all of us. Tex was tough on me early in my career, but he believed in me and gave me the confidence I needed to make the triangle work. He’d say ‘I’m not criticizing. I’m coaching.’
“Tex leaves a helluva legacy behind. Student of the game. Hall of Famer. Nine NBA championships as a coach. He taught me how to become a better offensive player. How to be patient on the floor. How to take criticism. How to win. Thank you Tex. Rest in peace.”
Winter was the assistant coach that pioneered the “triangle offense,” which Phil Jackson and the Bulls used to win six titles during the 1990’s.
Michael Jordan, who was also on the team when Winter was on the bench, issued a statement to the Chicago Tribune on Winter’s passing.
“I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game,” Jordan told the paper. “His triangle offense was a huge part of our six championships with the Bulls. He was a tireless worker, and Tex was always focused on details and preparation and a great teacher.
“I was lucky to play for him. My condolences to his family,” he added.
Winter passed away Wednesday at the age of 96. In his long career as an assistant coach, he won nine NBA championships, including three with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.