How a Triangle Beats a Square: Why the Lakers Really Won the Utah Series


The Western Conference’s semi-final round between the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz turned out to be not only a series of interior dominance on the Lakers part, but also a clash of offensive systems.  The Lakers brought Phil Jackson’s now legendary triangle offense against Jerry Sloan’s endless series of down and backpicks, an offense he’s run as the longest tenured NBA coach.  Utah's system is the "square" in more ways than one:  the offense and their coach.


Every avid fan is familiar with LA’s triangle offense.  It is the most non-structured, structured offense in history.  Based on a “read and react” concept, to quote Jackson, this offense relies on player’s smarts and ball movement.  The better executed the flow, the better the triangle performs.  


The triangle is actually a vintage offense, refined by Jackson’s long-time assistant and mentor, Tex Winter, who learned the system from its inventor in the 1940’s.  


Jackson ran the triangle during Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls championships run, used it again during the volatile Shaq and Kobe Bryant days, and now in this Lakers’ rebirth.  The triangle may be old and complex to learn but it works, even in 2010.


Surprisingly, Jackson has been recently quoted again on how “old school” his offense really is and how he’s still reluctant to embrace the run, gun, and launch three offenses of today’s NBA.  For a brief moment, it seems like Jackson questions himself, considering the possibility of adopting more of today’s NBA styles.  Just as quickly as he’ll admits this, he reverts back, sticking with old faithful, the triangle.  But, the proof is the scoreboard a...

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