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Winning Time is not winning in accuracy

Tues. | 05-24-22 | ENTERTAINMENT

     If you pay attention to sports at all, I’m sure you have heard of the Lakers. The Lakers are not only one of the most successful basketball franchises of all time, but the most culturally influential team in history. HBO’s new show “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” gives a somewhat accurate historical reenactment of how this amazing franchise came to be.

     The show is mostly about Jerry Buss, the soon-to-be owner of the Lakers. Buss is a charismatic and enthusiastic person that is willing to do whatever it takes to make the Lakers a championship team, even if it requires spending money he doesn’t have. At the beginning of the season, Buss struggles with a dysfunctional program, coach and team with the new addition of rookie star Magic Johnson. 

     The actors in this show do a great job of portraying the differing personalities of each character. Magic is a young and enthusiastic person who clashes with the personalities of his older veteran teammates, especially their captain and star player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Although he is normally a comedic actor, John C. Reilly does an amazing job portraying the emotions of Jerry Buss as he struggles with the stress and anxiety of being in over his head with the Lakers, in addition to the personal issues Buss has with his family.

     The Lakers continue to struggle until their new coach Jack McKinney takes over, who implements a new revolutionary play style for the team. The team's growing success and chemistry brings a new excitement to the NBA, which was a dying league at the time. 


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     Just when things begin to improve, McKinney gets into a devastating bike accident, hospitalizing him for the rest of the season, so his assistant has to take over. The Lakers continue to battle through the struggles of poor coaching, injuries and more. This is until they eventually reach the playoffs, where they are the number one seeded team in their conference. I really enjoyed this segment of the series because you could see the team growing closer together, even though they were dealing with an incompetent coach.

     Through this team struggle, every important character has their own internal issues which are highlighted throughout the show. Magic deals with an internal battle between him and his rival rookie star Larry Bird, in addition to feeling disconnected from his friends and family back in Michigan. Buss has to take care of his sick and dying mother, all while struggling to hold his team together by paying for all of the help they need with money he doesn’t even have. Even with all of these conflicts, the underlying goal for every character in the show is to win, so it drives them to do whatever they feel is best for the team. These events add a lot more depth to the plot of this show, and make it an overall more interesting watch.

     Another thing I enjoy about this series is the cinematography. The use of different lenses and scenery makes every scene more interesting, and really makes it look like it is being shot in the early 1980s. The use of text and images helps break up the different sections in each episode, and makes the series flow better.

     The last episode depicts the Lakers in game six of the finals, meaning they could win it all as a result of this game. Without their captain and starting center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who got injured in the previous game, the chances of the Lakers winning the finals looked slim. However, Magic was able to pull through and lead his team to victory against all odds. I really enjoyed how this finale tied up all of the loose ends from the rest of the show, but also gave the viewer a closer look into each character's personalities and flaws. I also really enjoyed the use of Jerry Buss’s monologues throughout the episode, as it provided a smooth conclusion to the show and broke up the episode nicely.

     As you may remember from the beginning of this article, I said this show is a “somewhat accurate reenactment.” Recent controversy has surrounded this show because some consider it inaccurate and unrealistic. Specifically, Jerry West, who was the original coach of the Lakers before McKinney took over, was very angry about how the show portrayed him and the other Lakers.

     “The series made us all look like cartoon characters,” West told sportswriter Bill Dwyre. “They belittled something good.

     While I do agree that this show isn’t completely truthful in its portrayal of certain characters and events, I still think it is worth watching. The plot, cinematography and acting in this series is the best that I've seen in a while, so if you are a sports fan or just looking for something new to watch, I highly recommend this show.

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