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Legendary Bulls coach Johnny Bach dies

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Johnny Bach, the defensive coaching wizard behind the Bulls’ first three NBA championships from 1991 to 1993, has died. He was 91.

Bach was born in Brooklyn and began a long career in basketball at Fordham, where he played and later coached from 1950 to 1968, compiling a 265-193 record. Bach moved on to coach at Penn State where he became good friends with Joe Paterno.

In the 1980s, Bach jumped to the NBA and was head coach of the Golden State Warriors for three and a half seasons. The Bulls grabbed Bach as an assistant coach after he was let go by the Warriors.

Along with Tex “Triangle” Winter, Bach became an integral part of Phil Jackson’s coaching staff. Bach was the mastermind behind the Bulls’ “Doberman defense,” led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

“Johnny was a true treasure in the world of basketball,” said Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson in a statement. “He was the classic ‘old school’ coach who came to work each and every day with energy and enthusiasm for the game he loved. His zest for life and basketball were unparalleled. He will be greatly missed by everyone in the Bulls family as well as everyone he connected with during his long tenure in both college and professional basketball.”

Bach was known to everyone as a great storyteller. He enjoyed building model airplanes and after retiring from the NBA, he focused on watercolor painting.

In recent years, Bach stayed active in the game by consulting at some area high school basketball practices.

From the reaction to his death on Twitter, it’s apparent his love for the game was mutual: