“Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty” by HBO is rapidly becoming the go-to TV series for basketball enthusiasts and those interested in the dramatic behind-the-scenes of the NBA world. The show dives deep into the heart of the Los Angeles Lakers, showcasing both the team’s triumphs and tribulations. From the pinnacle of their 1982 NBA title win to the tumultuous dynamics off-court, the penultimate episode of season 2 leaves no stone unturned.
The 1982 Championship Victory
At the forefront of the Lakers’ success story is the 1982 NBA Championship, where the team clinched their eighth NBA title by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers. Under the mesmerizing ambiance of The Forum in Los Angeles, the Lakers marked a 4-2 victory, thanks to Magic Johnson’s awe-inspiring rebounds and assists, and James Wilkes’ exceptional scoring. Magic’s stellar performance not only added another title to the Lakers’ trophy cabinet but also earned him the coveted Finals MVP title, a repeat of his 1980 triumph.
The Rise and Fall: A Rollercoaster Journey
The journey, however, was not all roses. The very next season, in a twist of fate, the Lakers faced an agonizing sweep by the same 76ers team they had bested in 1982. This juxtaposition of victory and defeat perfectly encapsulates the unpredictable nature of sports.
Moreover, amidst the sports action, HBO’s “Winning Time” skillfully captures the managerial changes that brewed behind the scenes. After their 1982 championship feat, Jerry West stepped into the role of General Manager, taking the reins from Bill Sharman, who then ascended to the position of President of the Lakers.
Behind-the-Scenes Drama: Kareem’s Unfulfilled Knicks Dream
One of the standout subplots involves Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s unmet aspiration to play for the New York Knicks. Despite his towering presence and unparalleled skills, the Knicks didn’t reciprocate Kareem’s interest. The series hints that Kareem’s aversion to the limelight might have been a factor, although his impeccable gameplay should have overshadowed such concerns.
Roster Moves and Personal Struggles
In a significant roster move post the 1982 championship, the Lakers traded Norm Nixon and Eddie Jordan to the then-San Diego Clippers. This decision paved the way for the rise of Byron Scott, a pivotal player in the Lakers’ lineup for over a decade.
The series also touches upon the intricate personal lives of key figures like Magic Johnson. While Magic’s engagement to Cookie Kelly is showcased, their real-life journey to the altar was a more prolonged saga, culminating in a wedding in 1991.
Another captivating storyline revolves around Jerry Buss, who is portrayed entangled in a complex romantic web, hinting at his relationship with multiple women over the years.
Tragedy Strikes: Kareem’s Mansion Fire
Adding a somber tone to the narrative, “Winning Time” revisits the catastrophic incident of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mansion burning down in 1983. The devastation saw a loss of over $2.5 million, including Kareem’s prized collection of rare jazz vinyl records and invaluable NBA memorabilia. Yet, in a testament to his indomitable spirit, Kareem rejoined the Lakers shortly after, without taking a personal break.
One of the paramount moments in the series occurs when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shatters the NBA’s all-time scoring record. This monumental achievement came just months after the tragic fire. Kareem’s score of 31,420 career points surpassed Laker legend Wilt Chamberlain’s record. Although “Winning Time” won’t cover Kareem’s entire illustrious career, it teases viewers with the promise of an electrifying season finale focusing on the 1984 NBA Finals face-off between the Lakers and the Celtics.
As the curtains draw on season 2, viewers are left eagerly anticipating the dramatic showdown, perfectly setting the stage for a riveting end to this critically acclaimed series.