Gregorian Chants

Happy 92nd birthday to coaching legend Tex Winter

For something I’m working on down the road, I’ve been enjoying correspondence with former Kansas State basketball player Larry Weigel, who wrote about legendary coach Tex Winter turning 92 on Tuesday.

Before giving his update from Manhattan, Weigel’s note began with an introduction that sounds like a Rodney Dangerfield routine:

“Morice Fredrick Winter was born February 25, 1922 in Lubbock, Texas.

“Page fourteen of Ann Parr’s Triangle Basketball book quotes Tex under the heading TEX SAYS: ‘I was the baby of the family by fifteen minutes. My mother named me Morice Fredrick and my twin sister, Mona Francis. Mother was hysterical. She had Mona first, and she really struggled.

“The doctor said, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve got another one.’

“She said, ‘No, no, no, no. I don’t want it. Put it back.’

“The doctor said, ‘Well, I’ll take it.’ She said, `Well, you can have it.’

“For a long time, that doctor claimed me. He teased my mother and said, `That’s my boy.’ But she said, `No, we’re a family. I’ve got to keep Fred with me.’”

Then Weigel wrote of his traditional birthday visit to Winter, who had been Weigel’s coach.

Winter popularized and refined the triangle offense, among many influential contributions to the game in a career honored, later than it should have been, by his 2011 enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Winter, who had a 261-118 record at K-State and later served as an assistant coach to Phil Jackson for nine NBA championships, suffered a stroke in 2009 that has impaired him.

But his affable nature still radiates, as Weigel observed in a touching scene Tuesday.

“I stopped by to see Tex, Nancy and Brian today at noon to deliver the annual ice cream cake. I have a standing order with our local Baskin Robbins place to prepare a Triangle cake for Tex on his special day.

“They were glad to see me and we had a good visit. Their son Brian is doing a remarkable job of taking care of his parents since Tex and Nancy live with him …

“Nancy was reading and Tex was watching an old Lakers’ game with classical music playing in the background.

“Tex has been a real trooper dealing with his shingles, and I can tell by the grimace on his face that he’s in pain most of the time in his right arm and shoulder. Nancy is doing fine.

“We looked at some pictures together from the (1964) Final Four reunion. Tex and Nancy love to look at pictures. I noticed some birthday cards on the shelf and there was one from some unknown fan named Mary with a very nice personal note.

“If you have a second, send Tex a belated birthday greeting and include a picture if you have one. You can send it to: 1812 Todd Rd. Manhattan, KS 66502.”

We all have too much to do. But if you’re a K-State fan, or even just a basketball fan, writing Winter surely would be a few minutes well-spent.