Fred “Tex” Winter, who led Kansas State men’s basketball to four Final Fours and eight conference championships from 1953 to 1968 died Wednesday. He was 96.
A native of Huntington Park, California, Winter graduated from USC in 1947 and was hired as an assistant coach under Hall-of-Fame Kansas State coach Jack Gardner, where he stayed until 1951, helping the Wildcats to two Final Four appearances. He was then hired to a two-year stint as head coach at Marquette before returning to K-State in 1953 to replace Gardner. Winter posted a 261-118 record as head coach of the Wildcats. He led the team to two more Final Fours and was voted national coach of the year for the 1958-59 season. His .689 winning percentage still stands as the highest in K-State history.
From K-State, Winter went on to coach at Washington, Northwestern and Long Beach State at the collegiate level, earning 454 victories overall. In the NBA, Winter coached the Houston Rockets from 1971 to 1973.
Winter published a book in 1962 entitled The Triple Post Offense, which detailed the offense that Winter pioneered while at K-State. The offense, which came to be popularly known as “the Triangle” eventually led Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls to NBA dominance in the 1990s, earning them six league titles under coach Phil Jackson. Winter served as a Bulls assistant under Doug Collins from 1985 to 1989, then as Jackson’s assistant in Chicago from 1989 to 1998. He followed Jackson to Los Angeles from 1999 to 2008, winning an additional five championships with the Lakers.
In 2015, the drive leading from Bramlage Coliseum to the then-newly-constructed Ice Family Basketball Center was dedicated as “Tex Winter Drive” in his honor.
Winter suffered a debilitating stroke in 2009 while in Manhattan for a K-State basketball reunion, and had been in declining health since.