You might have heard about the unfortunate speech - well, let's just say it flat-out: terrible speech - Tex Winter's son gave on his behalf Friday night at Tex's induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Chris Winter's 11-minute speech included Tex trying to get him off the stage and Chris' family apparently gesturing at him later from the audience to "wrap it up." The video of the speech can be seen at the bottom of this post, and at the 7:15 mark is when Tex tries to end it but Chris responds by digging through his unfurling stack of speech-reference papers and saying: "One other thing ..."
At the 10:20 mark is when Chris' rambling leads him to a quote he then has to attribute to Sigmund Freud instead of his father - and he looks into the audience and says under his breath, "Yeah, wrap it up." Tex, 89, chimes in from his side: "Let's go, let's go" despite his speaking skills remaining impaired from his 2009 stroke.
Chris, who actually has some of the same nervous tics as his father (though his father certainly was good at getting his points across through speech), then concedes defeat with the speech, saying quietly: "It's embarrassing." From there, he staggers home, the pages unfurling more as he tries to add a conclusion but can't come up with anything.
It's strangely compelling or horribly painful to watch - and in any case too bad that Tex couldn't speak for himself and share more of his wisdom. I always greatly enjoyed speaking to Tex, because he was such an open book to share his truths about players or even how bad his case of shingles had gotten. There's no question Winter shared more than his share of knowledge about a zillion things - including to some of those who stand as more immortal in basketball history than he.
Ken Berger's piece for CBSSports.com speaks to how Chris Winter, a physicist, was somewhat ill-suited for this sentimental journey with his father. This comment appears (unedited here) under the YouTube video of Chris' speech:
Chris is my younger brother, and I he does have a quirky personality. I think he just tried to pull off a little too much here, and as my dad might say incorporated , "used too much wasted motion." that got out of hand. So much for his public speaking days. For those here who wonder if Chris is a functioning human being, let it be said he? has a PhD in Physics, and a top technician in his field. I am not aware of any drinking or drug issues, and I chock this up to a peculiar bad moment.
Longtime Bulls observer Lacy Banks wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times about how Winter can only say a few words before losing his train of thought but is "just happy to be alive." For some perspective on Winter's career, you can check out the blog post of former Chicago Bulls scout Clarence Gaines, who was around to see plenty first-hand.
For me, seeing Tex and Phil Jackson on that Hall of Fame stage together reminds me of so many moments of them together with the Lakers, mostly in Tex's final years. When the Lakers were in training camp in Honolulu in 2007, it would be Phil driving just Tex from the team hotel to practice at the arena and back, and although Tex was still plenty sharp and strong-minded, I'll never forget the rare outward sweetness you could see from Phil as he was around his aging mentor.
Obviously it would've been special for Jackson, chosen by Winter to be his Hall of Fame presenter, to speak for his longtime friend. That would've been must-see stuff. But believe me, they've had plenty of moments - public and private - to show their love for each other and for Jackson to acknowledge how much Winter has done for him and the game of basketball.
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