The longtime Lakers consultant and the modern-day architect of the triangle offense said he didn't expect to return next season because of health issues….
"I'm getting too old," he said, smiling. "At one time I thought I would [return], but I'm not sure anymore. I would feel a whole lot better about it if I didn't have these shingles. It's really taken me downhill. The thing I don't want to become is too much of a distraction if my health doesn't hold up."
The Lakers would miss more than his knowledge of the offense (Phil Jackson should have figured the triangle out by now).
More importantly, Winter served as the unfiltered Jackson in comments to the media and the team. Because of his legendary stature, Winter could say things like “Kobe needs to share the ball more” that Jackson couldn’t for fear of damaging the coach/player relationship. Winter was like the little guy on Jackson’s shoulder that could say what he was thinking, and do it with impunity.
Winter, of course, has been more than Phil Jackson’s sidekick. He was once the head coach at Long Beach State and had a storied coaching resume before he became the voice of Jackson’s conscious. But that latter role is how he will be remembered.