Lakers guru Winter has apparent stroke

Tex Winter, the longtime Los Angeles Lakers consultant and architect of the triangle offense, has suffered an apparent stroke, coach Phil Jackson said Saturday.

Jackson, talking after a morning shootaround in Salt Lake City, said Winter was in Manhattan, Kan., for a reunion of the Kansas State basketball team, which he coached from 1954-68, when he became ill and fell in the shower.

Winter, who played at USC, was taken to a hospital, Jackson said, and had made slight progress Saturday.

"I've been in touch with the family and they feel relatively at ease with the situation, as difficult as it could have been," Jackson said. "I'm happy to say that, and they've basically said, 'Take your mind off of this and put it where it belongs right now.' "

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and 710 ESPN Radio's John Ireland confirmed through sources that Winter suffered a stroke.

A Lakers spokesman would not confirm or comment on Winter's specific condition, citing medical privacy laws.

"I can tell you that his condition has improved slightly in the last couple of hours, although I cannot give you any additional information at this time," said John Black, the Lakers' vice president of communications, in an e-mail to ESPN.

Winter, the longtime aide and mentor to Jackson, cut short his role with the Lakers in this season's training camp, saying the shingles that have plagued him the last few years have required heavier medication.

For years Winter has been immensely important to Jackson, but Winter said then that the medication had limited his usefulness.

Winter, who lives in Oregon, recently told the Los Angeles Times he thought it was unlikely he would return for his 10th season with the Lakers and 64th overall in basketball.

"I'm getting too old," he told the newspaper. "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."

Information from ESPN.com's Henry Abbot was used in this report.