HBO’s Winning Time, a look back at Season 1

Actor Isaiah Quincy as Magic Johnson after winning the 1980 NBA championship.

Actor Isaiah Quincy as Magic Johnson after winning the 1980 NBA championship.
Picture: Courtesy of HBO

In the last episode of Victory time, Season 1 quickly dropped the spectacle and went straight to the truth. The biggest conceit of the series is that the series is based on real life, it cannot deviate from the truth. However, for all the creators who defended Max Borenstein and Adam McKay who have made the series fend off accusations of portrayal inaccuracy, the film’s core is the fictional narrative of real people, a Real team and a real result.

Episode 10 reminds us of that as it unfolds in the pivotal game 5 of the 1980 final, where the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers drew 2-2. Lakers captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar injured his leg in the second half but returned to action, delivering a historic victory. But it kept him out of Game 6. Then, so the Lakers coaching staff had to try something different.

Anyone who knows a pattern of NBA lore knows what happens next. Magic Johnson made history by dropping four places into the center, where he dribbled, scoring 42 points and 15 rebounds as a rookie. It’s a positional move teased from the start by Jerry West (Jason Clarke) as a learning curve to killing joy from the rookie phenom. But Magic is Magic, he can franchise lemonade out of lemons. It’s also apparently a move heralded by former coach Jack McKinney (Tracy Letts), who suggested it to former Lakers coach and current coach (in the episode) Paul Westhead (Jason Segel). ) as an olive branch for forgiveness. Magic also won the NBA Finals MVP and cemented his path as one of the top 10 players of all time and the greatest Laker ever for those of his age. certain.

Here you have it. The owner of the Lakers, Jerry Buss, has completed his rich story, lifting the family name out of poverty and into the history books. Magic, too, pulled his boot through his starter to NBA Mount Rushmore. And the Lakers franchise went from a joke to a legacy team.

But Borenstein and company did not create Victory time as an entertaining Wiki article. Instead, they wanted to show the trial and tribulation behind the scenes and contextualize the Lakers’ ascent to greatness against the backdrop of America’s economic and moral decline. Victory time It’s not just about a team’s path to glory; it is also a retelling of the great story of literature, a character changing for the better.

Unfortunately, where Victory time may have actually violated, it failed. Claire Rothman (Gaby Hoffman) was never considered a complete character. We never see her outside of the Forum. We leave her oblivious to her life beyond the sight of Buss. So when Buss brings in his daughter Jeanie (Hadley Robinson), who will eventually help bring the Lakers back to the championship in 2020, only to ask her opinion on which of her brothers is her. Should she be given an empty seat on the board, we should not only see how Little Buss has actually evolved, but how mainstream media has evolved in storytelling from his point of view. it.

That’s not to say that Victory over Time should tell the story from the point of view of Sally Field’s Jessie (Jerry’s mother) or Jeanie’s. But it is possible for both to use the device more time. Rothman, too. We have books, written by the stars themselves and others, by all the major players. But we know very little about Jeanie’s rise to power with the Lakers. Victory time could have shown us more from this vantage point to give us a real peek behind the curtain. Instead, we are assigned another group of bad people to try to circumvent the good, fail, and try again.

The series evolves into your typical TBS/TNT drama by connecting all of the minor storylines left open from the pilot. Kareem (Soloman Hughes) overcome Torch magic. McKinney and Westhead reconcile. Kareem learns to let go and let God. And Buss got his rival, Red Auerbach. Oh, that’s right and a strange but possibly real plot involving Spencer Haywood (Wood Harris) hiring drugs to kill his former teammate has been resolved.

The thing to keep in mind is that Haywood will get high on drugs and turn his life around. This is perhaps the best happy ending of any of Laker’s great works. In the role of Haywood, Wood Harris stole the series as a whole, delivering its best performance while telling one of the few stories that even the former chiefs aren’t too familiar with.

Much of the episode is spent reminiscing about that faithful Game 6, serving as a history lesson for the millennial generation who thought the NBA started with LeBron James. The fake basketball is portrayed on screen as the best movie, which doesn’t say much about how most of the basketball scenes were put together in post-production. Most of the actors portraying the Lakers legend barely played college football, if so.

The episode that evolves into the Hoosiers/Air Bud level of championship game history isn’t a bad thing. But the show tried in nine episodes to be so much more. It is attempted to be a statement of the failures of theapitalism, The Invisible Negro, and the Evils of American Society. But in the end, it decided to be a light, comfortable pastime.

For example, when Magic tells about versions of Larry Bird’s mother, girlfriend, and rival that exist in his head to make love in his living room, it colors the scene and episode with a poignant poignancy. melancholy. We know Magic won multiple championships and got the girl. In fact, he gets every girl. And more. As the fantasies fade away, leaving Magic alone in his home, we still know less of the man who has become a part of our pop culture consumption for 30 years than before. the story begins.

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