The Purple & Gold, Laker Nation. One of the most storied franchises in sports history receives a biopic for their contribution to the notion of saving the NBA in the 1980s. Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Kareem "The Captain" Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry "The Logo" West all side with the infamous Dr. Jerry Buss to make storied appearances as they navigate us on a one-dimensional yet quirky depiction of a reality that changed the way sports are viewed today. An accurate storyline gives a rather unaware perspective on what the audience may feel their favorite NBA Legends would be like placed in a dramedy. Indulge yourself in this JHN REVIEW. Brace yourself, "IT'S SHOWTIME!"
JERRY WEST? REALLY?
When the infamous Jerry West, the Original NBA Superstar, makes his appearance on "Winning time", he immediately captivates with over-the-top emotional reactions. The most common knock against this series is the inaccuracy of the portrayal of some of the most revered personalities in sports. Jerry was seen as being the ultimate competitor before the likes of a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. Jerry was the originator. So, it was only right that this story starts here. His impact cannot be replaced, and it would be just as difficult to manipulate or portray such a person. The blame would not go to the actor, Jason Clarke, rather to the writing crew who even with a massive budget, failed to place names on personalities. With that being said, that could have been the objective. "What would it be like if we created a series based on what the Laker fans saw?" "What if we made these people... characters?" This is what you get; an amazing intentional overreaction to the persona of your favorites. Jerry's competitiveness was transformed into a profanity laced tirade with an arrogance and assurance of the Los Angeles superstar that he truly is. Through the series, "Zeke from the Cabin Creek" had a presence that was irreplaceable, and Dr. Buss (John C. Reilly) relied on him for guidance and advise, and he was seen as a corner-piece to the series as he has been to the Purple & Gold for many years.
IT'S WINNING TIME!
As spoken before, the story starts with Jerry West and his defeat against Red Auerbach (Michael Chiklis). Which leads to incredible pacing giving our hero Jerry an obstacle too great to defeat. An insurmountable challenge. The pacing bounces more often in season 2 when we learn more about our adversary, the immaculate Larry Bird (Sean Patrick Small), yet stays rather balanced by imposing sharp climaxing of scenes as the story moves from 1980, to 1984, to 1979, to 1983. There was never a dull moment which made it important each time we traveled through time. From Larry's first appearance at Indiana State University. "Cooking" his future teammates in a pair of bootcut jeans, to the reasoning of Auerbach's decision to draft him in 1979. Each scene in those episodes imposed significant impacts on the plot. All in all, this was the true power of the series.
THIS IS L.A.
This review will never be complete without Earvin "The Magic Man" Johnson. Inevitably, Quincy Isaiah has to master two personalities in one. He must capture the Midwestern, tantalizing, wide-eyed 'Earvin Johnson', and the arrogant, room shaking, captivating, riveting, in-human gracefulness of 'Magic Johnson'. The seamless act of transitioning from "Magic" to "Earvin" was natural because the makeup of the character development was displayed by placing 'surrounding in character', versus placing 'character in society'. The theme to the series shows a direction we never actually see in the series by showing the turmoil of the 1980s and 1970s. The closest thing to 'character in society' the audience sees is captained by "The Captain" himself. We learn about the Islamic impact on the life of Kareem (Solomon Hughes) by being introduced to Islamist who give the formerly known as Lew Alcindor direction. This pillars his plight to leadership throughout the series. Other than that, the writers take the Los Angeles community and places it in the likes of our characters. From the way they dressed, to the way they walked. You could see the society being worn on the cast by the way they were directed and how the actors played their roles. We didn't see the impact of drugs by randomly incorporating news broadcasts or scenes of driving along the street to set the setting. Better yet, the impact of drugs was signified by placing the addiction upon a Laker player, Spencer Haywood (Wood Harris) who was removed from the team because of his excessive drug use. This helped us understand the dualling personalities of "Magic" and "Earvin" as he stood as the face of the franchise and our main protagonist. We got to see the impact Michigan played on his personality based on his mannerisms and his relationship with his parents. And the same could be said by his interactions with his Los Angeles teammates and Dr. Buss.
In the end, Boston ultimately reins rent-free on the minds of long-time LAKERS fans. The longest standing, most important rivalry in sports is made flavorful with comedy that is fitting for our time. No matter what occurred, the challenge of defeating the Boston CELTICS was never forgotten as the plot moves along. The Los Angeles team faced many disappointments. Many of those disappointments were caused within by their own staff & team. Paul Westhead (Jason Segal) stood as a seeming anti-hero. He wasn't against our LAKERS, but he certainly wasn't for our LAKERS. Jeff Pearlman, Max Boresntein and Jim Hecht did a phenomenal job of understanding team chemistry and the impact it has on success by pinning Paul Westhead and Pat Riley (Adrien Brody) as a grading scale on team chemistry points. Riley attempted to salvage the obsessed Paul Westhead from certain destruction by patching the relationship between Magic Johnson and Westhead as the goal is to not defeat each other, but to focus on Buss's vision to defeat the Boston CELTICS.
This is a series that all-time LAKERS fans can truly enjoy and understand. It was soft-hearted enough to fit the comedic gif era we now live in. Waiting on the edge of your seat for the next Showtime moment was mesmerizing, and many wish the series was renewed. Alas, the show has come to an end after 2 seasons. Nonetheless, it had a strong 2 season run that will be remembered. The uniqueness of a series like this might come more often due to the success of Winning Time, but LAKERS fans will always remember this one. "Bleed Purple & Gold".
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