Winning Time’s past few episodes have shown us exactly which alter and gods each character worships. Money, Power, Fame, and Hoops are just the starting ingredients for Showtime.
HBO’s fictional portrayal of the 1980’s Los Angeles Lakers has gotten rave reviews and even earned the producers a few lawsuits. Jerry West may not like how he is coming across to viewers but the truth cuts the deepest. Maybe he was not actually drinking and cussin’ up a storm during every discussion but Winning Time has shown his true character. Hell, West is still living in the same fashion as the show depicts.
West isn’t all that different from everyone else, even when you factor in all those losses in the NBA Finals. Winning Time’s past few episodes have shown us exactly which alter and gods each character worships. Money, Power, Fame, and Hoops are just the starting ingredients for Showtime. West is a control freak behind the scenes but just wasn’t cut out to lead from the front. It’s why he shuttled around as an executive but didn’t make the cut as a coach, burning out after just three years.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has also turned his nose up at the show like it’s bad orange juice. Through Allah, his following of God is through respect. Respect the man, the struggle, the game, and the life given. Praise be to the freshly squeezed souls getting pushed out into a world making him feel not only 800+ games old, but unappreciated. A lot of people had to suffer before Magic could be loved, yet Earvin is oblivious to it all. Kareem and Magic’s dad Earvin Sr. still have not figured out if that’s a blessing or a curse.
The Sky Hook Silhouette and The Logo are in the minority though. Winning Time has brought in HBO’s highest ratings in the past three weeks. Millions have been flocking to a different kind of hoops church toward the end of the NBA’s season.
Dr. Jerry Buss announced his loyalties to start off the series. Sex and Basketball are the only things leading him to believe in God. Claire Rothman and Jeannie Buss sacrifice ethical accounting numbers to appease those gods. Earvin Johnson needs authentic loving but Magic worships at the altar of adulation and attention. It’s why he got in as many bad business deals early in his career as he did beds… if things made it that far at all.
Paul Westhead isn’t going to make it far holding the biggest clipboard in Los Angeles. It weighs too much for him to carry. It’s not a tome on Shakespeare, it’s a mere game played by great talents and fucking tell it to Macbeth Paul. Pat Riley holds nothing higher on the pedestal than winning basketball games.
Hell, he gets constantly fisted just to watch good basketball while Chick Hearn vodkas his way through the night. Westhead jaunts back and forth between professional players and recruiting high schoolers when he isn’t coaching overseas. The life experience was more important than the glory for Westhead, but at least he knew it.
Everyone around Magic is after the money and fame, even if through an unknown third degree. The only person that doesn’t need that from Magic is Larry. We finally get the villain. At the end of episode 7, we get the introduction of Larry Bird, a simple, white, arrogant asshole who eats quote “food” before the games. But Bird’s villain makes Winning Time’s emerging superhero necessary.
Adrien Brody’s Pat Riley is getting the limelight shown on his origin story. He was going stir crazy with retirement cabin fever before he got a shot behind a microphone. Getting that close to the game was like teasing an addict. After dabbling with sending notes down to the bench, Westhead convinces Riley to join him in one last-ditch effort to save some jobs. Only, Westhead didn’t tell Riley he was leaving a sure paycheck to join a sinking ship.
The real coaching captain was still laid up in the hospital. The replacement was holding on the other line, wrongly dialed numbers be damned. Riley had to do something quick to salvage the situation, to keep his voice in the locker room. Riley, it turns out, needed a happy smirk and some slicked-back hair. Riley wore that confident swagger to four titles and became an icon. Many holding clipboards today worship at Riley’s coaching cathedral.