If you are able to dig up a copy of Tex Winter's triangle-offense book, initially composed in 1962 and not too long ago cited by Phil Jackson as "our Bible still," you know that post play is paramount.
They are literally items 1A and 1B in Winter's "Seven Principles of Sound Offense." Principle No. 1 is "Must Penetrate the Defense," and written below is "A. Good percentage shots ..." and "B. Stress inside power game."
Yes, Michael Jordan made the triangle famous, and he slashed more than he posted for a Bulls team that had some pretty nondescript centers. Yet that's exactly why Jackson and Winter found irresistible the prospect of coming to Lakerland and dropping post-up powerhouse Shaquille O'Neal into their offense.
Three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards? O'Neal really should've been called "The Big Apex" for how perfectly the triangle fit him.
But to reinforce our post-up point, let's check in with Jordan, too. Here's the scene ...
Where: Nike sponsorship function. When: Summer, 2005. What: Kobe Bryant picking Jordan's brain about Bryant's impending move from guard to Jordan's wing/small forward position in the triangle.
Jordan's primary advice: "Go to the post a lot."
Jordan wound up there often as time went by in Chicago. More and more, he appreciated it was the place to be in the triangle and a great spot from which to take care of business. But the real crux of it is that illegal-defense rules in his era enabled Jordan to dominate absolutely in isolation on the wing – an option the NBA's legalized zones took away from Bryant.
So, Jordan told Bryant, it's a different game than Jordan played – so Bryant had to embrace all that the post offered.
Bryant has done as he was told, integrating post play into his repertoire that very 2005-06 season, although this season without Gasol has seen him far more aggressively seize post position.
It got to the point that Jackson told Bryant to save it for certain times – and now that Gasol is back, that's precisely what can happen. Bryant, Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest and occasionally Lamar Odom will all set up in there, because the Lakers want to use all their size and skill, especially when given mismatches, and because triangle is built for all the positions to be interchangeable.
"We have a bunch of guys who can post," Bryant said. "We have the advantage."
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