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Bulls confirm that former assistant coach Tex Winter is dead at 96

Former Bulls assistant coach Morice Fredrick “Tex’’ Winter, who was considered the architect of the famed triangle offense, died Wednesday, the organization confirmed.

Winter, 96, was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. He won nine NBA championships as an assistant with the Bulls and Lakers.

“Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game,’’ Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “He was an innovator who had high standards for how basketball should be played and approached every day. Those of us who were lucky enough to play for him will always respect his devotion to the game of basketball. His contributions to the Bulls’ organization will always be remembered.’’

Hired by the Rockets as their coach in 1971, Winter was in and out of the league for the next 20-plus years, with coaching stints at Northwestern, Kansas State and Long Beach State.

He was all set to retire before the 1985-86 season, but then-Bulls general manager Jerry Krause talked him into joining the coaching staff as an assistant and bringing along his triangle offense.

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In what was a perfect storm, the Bulls had an up-and-coming Michael Jordan as the face of the franchise, then brought coach Phil Jackson into the mix.

It didn’t take Jackson long to become a disciple of Winter’s offense.

The Bulls’ dynasty began in the 1990-91 season and came to an end after the 1997-98 season with six championships.

When Jackson left for Los Angeles, Winter went with him, and they won three more titles together.

Winter’s health problems began in 2009, when he suffered a stroke while attending a Kansas State basketball reunion.

Besides being a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Winter also was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.