Why the Lakers Need to Go Back to the Triangle Offense

I never thought I would ever miss Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. Having grown up in Los Angeles a USC fan, I had seen the offense since my early childhood. The same high/low post passing offense taught by Sam Barry to Tex Winter, Alex Hannum and Bill Sharman while they were players in the late 1940s.

It worked in the pre-shot clock era where slow down, grind-‘em-out games ruled before the shot clock and the three-point line.

As young children, we loved the change in the game caused primarily by the Bill Russell-led fast break Celtics and the change in athleticism beginning with the fabulous Elgin Baylor in October 1958.

When Phil Jackson and Tex Winter adapted the Chicago Bulls into a triangle offense, it looked better because of Michael Jordan. Despite Jackson’s claims about the effectiveness of the triangle, it was always Jordan breaking down the defense one-on-one that made it work. Or an armbar to Bryon Russell to win an NBA championship.

That didn’t change during Phil Jackson’s term with the Lakers. It was Shaq, Kobe and a host of players that could have started anywhere else.

Except for the occasional highlight from Robert Horry and Brian Shaw against Portland and Sacramento, it was Kobe passing to Shaq for a dunk or Kobe "going off" after Shaq fouled out in the championship series against the Pacers. Phil Jackson won because of talent, talent and more talent.


Laker fans spoiled by Magic Johnson’s Showtime were not eager to embrace the triangle, as it was simply slow and boring. But championships wash away boredom and make one forget the flaws of the triangle.

Just ask fans in Chicago, during Michael Jordan's brief retirement, and Dallas, after they hired Jim Clemmons, when the triangle failed miserably.

Many of us were eager to see the triangle put into a box and ceremoniously given a G...

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