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Old 02-05-2010, 09:01 AM   #1
KatDad
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Location: Overland Park, Kansas
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Tex Winter Coming Home

Tex and Nancy Winter are coming home.

"We're bringing them back to Manhattan, Kansas sometime in March, and they'll be living at Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community," said Brian Winter, one of three sons of the former Kansas State basketball coach.

Winter, soon to turn 88, suffered a stroke nearly one year ago while in Manhattan celebrating the 50th reunion of his 1958-59 team that was ranked No. 1 in the country and finished the season 25-2.

The Winters are currently living in an assisted living facility in Wilsonville, Ore., where Tex continues to recover from the stroke, and Nancy, his wife, battles Alzheimer's.

"Dad's improving. He can get up and around, but still has trouble with his speech," said Brian, a resident of Manhattan. "He can understand what you're saying, and he can read things, but he continues to have trouble forming many words or saying names. He can't carry on a conversation. It's just short greetings and sentences."

It should be no surprise that it is basketball that brings an alertness to Winter, who coached collegiately and professionally starting in 1952 at Marquette, through 2009 with the Los Angeles Lakers.

As coach at Kansas State from 1953-54 through 1967-68, Winter's teams won 261 games, which included eight Big Eight titles and two Final Fours using the triangle, or Triple Post, offense that he literally wrote the book on.

After leaving K-State, Winter made collegiate stops at Washington, Northwestern and Long Beach State, before becoming the head coach with the NBA Houston Rockets for two seasons. After that, he would join the Chicago Bulls, and most recently the Los Angeles Lakers, as an assistant earning a combined 10 NBA Championship rings.

"This past November my brother (Chris) took dad back to LA for the ring ceremony," Brian said. "I think he really enjoyed that, and it brought closure to his career as a coach."

While most recently serving as a "consultant" to Lakers' coach Phil Jackson, Winter referred to the position as an "insultant." No matter how much star-status a player had, it was Winter that always spoke from his coaching heart.

With the Bulls, Steve Kerr tells the story of Michael Jordan going individual and taking several shots in a row out of offense. As the story goes, Winter leaned to Jackson and said, "Ahh, Phil, get him out of there. Get Kerr in."

Kerr continued, "Here I'm lucky to be in the league, and Tex is saying that the greatest player in the world isn't running the offense correctly and he wants to put me in."

In his acceptance speech to the Hall of Fame this past year, Jordan referred to the love-hate relationship he had with Winter by saying, "We were walking off the court and I had gone off for about 55 and we had won the game. Tex came up and said, 'You know, there's no 'I' in team.' I said, 'Coach, you're right, but there is 'I' in win."

Saying that basketball truly was an obsession with his father, to this day nothing will bring a slight smile to his aging face more quickly than the site of players properly spaced in the design of a triangle.

Caring for his father in the first months after the stroke, Winter demonstrated little communicative skills, or desire to communicate. Finally, Chris asked his father to diagram a play on a piece of paper.

"Out of nowhere, there it was . an offensive play drawn perfectly, completely understandable and legible enough for players to run it," Chris said. "I was really surprised . but then I wasn't surprised at all."

Another son, Russ, said of his father, "It may not always seem like it on the outside, but there's still a coach in there. He's always been a coach. He doesn't know how to do anything else."
_____________________________________________

He was truly one of the most influential basketball coaches of the modern era.

Welcome home indeed Coach Winter!
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