Report: Tex Winter to enter Hall of Fame

Updated: April 3, 2011, 8:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tex Winter, guru of the triangle offense and Phil Jackson's longtime assistant with the Chicago Bulls and later the Los Angeles Lakers, will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to a Chicago Tribune report citing an anonymous source.

This year's Hall inductees will be announced Monday in Houston prior to the NCAA championship game. Dennis Rodman, whose No. 10 jersey the Pistons retired in a halftime ceremony Friday night, said then that he had been informed he would be among the 2011 class of Hall of Famers.

Winter won six NBA titles as Jackson's lieutenant with the Bulls in the 1990s, as well as three more during the Lakers' three-peat from 2000 to 2002. He suffered a stroke in April 2009, and the Tribune source said his declining health since then would prevent him from traveling to Houston.

[+] EnlargeTex Winter
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty ImagesLakers coach Phil Jackson, left, talks with former longtime assistant Tex Winter before Game 2 of the 2010 NBA Finals, when Winter was honored with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.

"For the past 15 years there have been people telling me that Tex is going in the Hall of Fame," Jackson said Sunday. "When Tex was verbally and cognizantly capable of receiving this award, I would have been much happier. The fact now that he's had a stroke that's impaired his capabilities, it kind of irritates me a little bit that this wasn't done 10 years ago when he was still serving basketball at such a great capacity.

"Still, in all, I'm happy that it's been awarded."

Kobe Bryant weighed in on Sunday as well.

"It's about time. It's about time. It's very well deserved," Bryant said. "I'm beyond happy for him. It's exciting, a little past due, but better late than never."

Winter was named to the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in February 2010 and received the John Bunn Award from the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1998, recognizing him as an important contributor to the game, but not honoring him in the Hall as a coach.

"His coaching record was impeccable," Jackson said in June 2010, when Winter was presented with the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award. "For the first 20 years of basketball that he coached he was one of the top coaches ever in the game.

"But he served as president of the NABC, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which is the NCAA Coaches Association. For a number of years he was on their advisory board. And I used to kid him that all the people that would have voted him in the Hall of Fame had passed away, so he had nobody to vouch for him at that time.

"And the new breed that came in were saying he was an assistant coach, but Tex wasn't just any assistant coach, that's for sure."

Jackson echoed that sentiment again Sunday.

"The idea that an assistant coach would be in the Hall of Fame kind of grated at some people," Jackson said. "It was made up for head coaches or general managers or people that had played the game itself. But Tex was the winningest basketball coach in college when he went into the pros with the Houston Rockets. He had been a head coach in so many different realms, in so many different arenas. Not only in the Big Ten, but the Big Eight and also out here with Long Beach before he retired as an active college coach."

Winter and Rodman, the flamboyant rebounder who won two NBA titles with Detroit and three more with Winter and the Bulls -- are among 12 finalists for the Hall of Fame this year, along with former NBA stars Jamaal Wilkes, Maurice Cheeks, Chris Mullin and Ralph Sampson, five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer, former NBA coach Dick Motta, Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee, college referee Hank Nichols, and Al Attles, the current vice president and assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors.

To be inducted, finalists must receive at least 18 votes from a 24-member committee.

Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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