Former head coach Phil Jackson didn’t invent the triangle offense, but he certainly found the best way to use it. Jackson won 11 NBA titles, six with the Chicago Bulls and five with the Los Angeles Lakers, basing his offense around one of the most sophisticated basketball systems of all time.
While other coaches may try to duplicate the triangle, or come up with a system similar to it, no one has been able to truly have the success that Jackson had with it.
However, according to Jackson, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is running a system that slightly mimics the triangle, whether that was his intention or not.
“Popovich made significant growth 10 years ago or so after David Robinson left,” Jackson said. “It had been pretty stilted. You know, two big guys. A lot of stuff he does represents the triangle offense. They flow into it a different way. Strong-side triangle. Pinch-post action. Some of it may have come about because we were going at each other all the time in the playoffs and he had to defend against it.”
If you read the rest of the interview, Jackson is tipping his cap to Popovich for being one of the few coaches in the NBA that keeps an effective system installed and doesn’t just mix things up for the benefits of short-term success.
The Spurs have shown over the years that they can win with or without their best players on the floor and even with or without their best coaches on the bench. They have a true formula for victory and they haven’t wavered from that since they started winning championships.
It doesn’t take someone of Jackson’s coaching level to recognize that what the Spurs do is working, but it’s kind of nice to see one of the greatest of all time paying respect to his former rival.