He got his first head coaching job 55 years ago. He won eight Big Eight championships as a college coach, has been an NBA coach, is an innovator and the world’s best authority on the triangle offense, mentored Phil Jackson when Jackson joined the Chicago Bulls and, at 84, is still by Jackson’s side as a consultant with the Lakers.
Tex Winter is a revered figure everywhere in basketball.
Everywhere but, it would seem, basketball’s Hall of Fame.
Monday’s announcement that Jackson has been voted into the Hall was yet another occasion to take notice of the fact that the man who has stood by his side won’t be by his side in the sport’s shrine.
Winter said he is thrilled at Jackson’s selection.
“I don’t know of anyone who has excelled at coaching more than he has,” Winter said. “He is very deserving. When he started coaching, he realized he had a lot to learn and was very receptive.”
Jackson is just as quick to praise Winter, never missing an opportunity to point out Winter’s absence from the Hall, but Winter himself has rarely, if ever, discussed the subject.
Is he disappointed?
“I think my family is a little more disappointed than I am,” he said before Wednesday’s Lakers-Clippers game at Staples Center. “I have three sons who followed my career very closely. They have a hard time understanding why I am not in.
“I understand to an extent. I coached college basketball for 37 years, but most of the coaches that I coached against, and had pretty good records against, coaches like Hank Iba, are all dead. So I don’t think a lot of the people on the Hall of Fame committee understand 37 years of college coaching, eight Big Eight Conference championships.
“I think that they think, ‘Well, Tex Winter, he was just an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls, with Phil and with the Lakers.’
“I coached basketball longer than anyone in history. There’s a lot of things that they don’t consider. Maybe they are going to wait until I’m dead.”