With the NBA season still being postponed for the time being, many fans everywhere have made it appointment viewing to watch ESPN’s 10-part documentary series ‘The Last Dance.’
One recent episode focused on Phil Jackson taking over the head coach job and installing the triangle offense around Michael Jordan with Tex Winter, something he would do when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
It was a huge adjustment for Jordan who had spent his entire NBA career up to that point with the ball primarily in his hands, allowing him to attack whenever he wanted. As such, he was yelled at often once the triangle was installed for not moving the ball.
This was something that stood out to former Lakers player and head coach Luke Walton, who played with the organization from 2003-2012. As he told Sam Amick and Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Winter used to yell at Kobe Bryant in the same way he did Jordan many years prior:
“I was dying laughing because Jordan during the episode at some point was talking about how Tex would always be on the bench yelling at Michael to move the ball, pass the ball,” Walton said.
“It made me think when we were playing on the Lakers, Tex would do the same thing, but about Kobe. He would have, like, 49 points, he’d be dominating the game, but Tex would be so mad that he wasn’t moving the ball. He had a two-count to move the ball. The ball either had to be dribbled, passed or shot within a two-count, and if Kobe didn’t do it, Tex would be losing his mind behind the bench. So to hear Jordan going through the same thing, two of the greatest players of all time, was pretty good.”
People have always spoken about the similarities between Jordan and Bryant, so the fact that the two had basically identical experiences in dealing with the triangle offense under Jackson and Winter definitely stands out. Much like Jordan, Kobe usually wanted the ball in his hands more often than not and it was difficult to adjust to that.
Of course, they would eventually adjust, and it led to multiple championships for both Kobe and Jordan and legendary status for Phil Jackson. Walton witnessed it first hand and it took a look back at Jordan for an even clearer view at just how similar the two legends were.