What to watch: Winning Time

What to watch: Winning Time

This offbeat look at the early days of the Lakers dynasty is fascinating and entertaining as hell.


There's not a lot to be happy about these days if you're a Lakers fans. This season is bad. There's no getting around that. If you root for the purple and gold, is there anything to be excited about? Well, HBO has a pretty fun show called Winning Time. That's... something!

Winning Time is an almost exaggerated look into the true story of how the Lakers totally reinvented themselves and professional basketball in the process. I wasn't born when Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team, so I can't really speak to whether this was his actual personality. I will say that John C. Reilly plays this larger-than-life character marvelously, playing a rich jerk who wants to win at all costs by turning around what's been a franchise on the downswing. There are a few exaggerated elements that don't really add much to the story and seem like they're there to manufacture drama. The show's third episode ended with a mob hit, in which the police found Dr. Buss' business card. That's a borderline-untrue anecdote and, worse, it doesn't really go anywhere.

In terms of the actual on-court drama, it's started to pick up in the most recent episode. While the first few chapters focused on rookie Magic Johnson and the departure of Coach Jerry West, the most recent episode explored the dysfunction of the old Lakers that look to ultimately lead to the shake-up that make them the great Showtime Lakers of the 80s. The tense atmosphere between Magic and the mercurial Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be one of the most interesting plot points in the show.

There are also a handful of side stories to keep the basketball fan engaged, whether it's Pat Riley getting his start as a non-player, Jerry West settling into front office life, or Jeanie Buss starting her lifelong career with the team that continues to this day.

On top of being a time capsule, Winning Time is delightfully funny. As noted, Jerry Buss is a total character, but more than that, the vintage cinematography, director Adam McKay's penchant for comedy, and the character interactions. I'd definitely recommend it if you have either HBO or sub to HBO Max.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 29, 2022 11:12 PM

    What to watch: Winning Time

    Read more: What to watch: Winning Time

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      March 29, 2022 11:39 PM

      Sounds like a fun show. I was too young to appreciate the Showtime Lakers, but as an NBA fan I’ll check this out.

    • reply
      March 29, 2022 11:57 PM

      The ending of episode 3 was a warning for Tarkanian more than Dr. Buss. The mob wanted Tark to stay at UNLV, implying that that's the reason why he backed out of the deal with the Lakers. And as you said, it is barely true. The murder happened because he was skimming money that he was laundering for the mob.

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