The triangle offense, a term that tickles the fancy of basketball fans and confounds the uninitiated, is not a scheme to dominate the Bermuda Triangle but rather a masterful basketball offense strategy that has mystified opponents and delighted fans. So what is the triangle offense? It's time to lace up your sneakers, grab a courtside seat, and prepare for a deep dive into the playbook that changed the game.

The Brainchild of Tex Winter

Tex Winter, the assistant coach with a name as cool as a winter's breeze, introduced the basketball community to the triangle offense. This strategic gem, also known as the triple post offense, is not your average pick and roll options. It's a sophisticated dance of passes, cuts, and screens that requires a high basketball IQ and great offense coordination.

The Zen Master's Touch

Enter Coach Phil Jackson, the Zen Master himself, who took the triangle offense and turned it into a basketball symphony with the Chicago Bulls and later the Los Angeles Lakers.

Phil Jackson

With Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the lead maestros, Jackson's teams secured a whopping 11 NBA championships. Talk about a strategy that delivers!

The Geometry of Winning

The triangle offense is all about angles and spacing. It starts with a direct pass to the wing and a two man game on the ball side corner. The point guard, acting as the offensive player, initiates the play, while the post player sets up shop in the low post. The high post and the opposite wing complete the geometric masterpiece.

The Dance of the Perimeter Players

Perimeter players in the triangle offense are like chess pieces, each with a critical role. They must read the defense, make smart decisions, and execute quick pass and simple pass maneuvers. The initial cut is crucial, as it sets the tone for the motion offense that follows.

The Low Post: A Battleground

The low post is where giants roam and battles are won. The post defender must be outsmarted with a combination of skip pass, lob pass, and back screen actions. The offensive player here needs to have the strength of a bull and the grace of a gazelle.

The High Post: The Pivotal Point

At the high post, the player becomes the pivot of the triangle, facilitating ball reversal and post split plays. This is where the magic happens, with hand off and down screen moves that can leave the defense scrambling.

The Pinch Post: Where Strategy Meets Skill

The pinch post is the sweet spot for a jump shot or a pass inside. It's a critical junction where the initial action can lead to a score or set up the next phase of the offense. The player here must have eyes on the back of their head and the precision of a surgeon.

The Weak Side: Not So Weak After All

The weak side of the triangle offense is anything but weak. It's where the opposite post and opposite side players lurk, ready for a ball screen or a new sideline triangle setup. The weak side is the land of opportunity for those who wait patiently.

The Art of the Pass

Passing in the triangle offense is like an art form. The direct pass, wing pass, and skip pass must be executed with finesse. A simple pass can be the difference between a shot clock violation and a buzzer-beater.

The Cut: A Symphony of Movement

The initial cut in the triangle offense is the first note in a symphony of movement. It's the spark that ignites the offense, leading to a post split or a two man setup. The cutter must be swift and decisive, like a ninja in the night.

The Screen: An Unseen Hero

Screens in the triangle offense are the unsung heroes. The back screen, ball screen, and down screen create openings and good spacing. The screener must be as sturdy as a lighthouse and as cunning as a fox.

The Role of the Point Guard

The point guard in the triangle offense is the conductor of the orchestra. With dribble entry and hand off maneuvers, the point guard sets the tempo and directs the flow. This player must have the vision of an eagle and the poise of a diplomat.

The Triangle Offense in Southern California

When the triangle offense hit Southern California with the Los Angeles Lakers, it was like Hollywood had found its new blockbuster. With Kobe Bryant leading the charge, the Lakers' rendition of the triangle was a box office hit, complete with drama, suspense, and, of course, championships.

The Assistant Coach's Perspective

Behind every great offense, there's an assistant coach with a clipboard full of set plays. The assistant coach's role in the triangle offense is to fine-tune the machine, ensuring that every pass inside, every initial action, and every short corner play is executed to perfection.

The Triangle Offense Today

The triangle offense may not be as prevalent in today's game, but its principles live on. Modern offenses borrow from its concepts of spacing, ball movement, and player movement. It's a testament to the timeless nature of good basketball strategy.

The Legacy of the Triangle Offense

The legacy of the triangle offense is etched in the annals of basketball history. With its intricate patterns and emphasis on teamwork, it has become a blueprint for success. The triangle offense is not just a strategy; it's a philosophy, a way of thinking about the game that transcends the court.

The Triangle Offense: A Case Study

Let's take a practical example: the 1996 Chicago Bulls. With Michael Jordan at the helm, the Bulls' triangle offense was a thing of beauty. The ball moved like it was on a string, players cut with purpose, and the spacing was textbook. It was basketball poetry in motion, leading to an NBA championship and a 72-10 record that still stands as a testament to the offense's effectiveness.

A Player's Perspective

From a player's perspective, the triangle offense is both a challenge and an opportunity. It demands a high level of understanding and a commitment to the team concept. For those who master it, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, it becomes a weapon of unparalleled potency.

Triangle Offense FAQ Section

Why is it called the triangle offense?

It's called the triangle offense because it positions three players in a triangle formation, typically with two players at the low and high posts and one at the wing, creating strong angles for passing and movement.

Can the triangle offense work in today's NBA?

While the triangle offense is less common in today's NBA, its principles of good spacing, ball movement, and player movement are still relevant and can be effective if executed well by players with a high basketball IQ.

Who are some notable players who thrived in the triangle offense?

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are two of the most notable players who thrived in the triangle offense, using it to lead their respective teams, the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, to multiple NBA championships.


The triangle offense is a strategic masterpiece that has left an indelible mark on the game of basketball. Its emphasis on spacing, player movement, and smart decision-making has propelled teams like the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to the pinnacle of success. While the game continues to evolve, the principles of the triangle offense remain relevant, influencing modern strategies and reminding us that basketball, at its best, is a game of intelligence as much as athleticism.