April 4, 2022

CABLE | Showtime! HBO Builds A Lakers Dynasty – 'Winning Time'

"If there's two things in this world that make me believe in God, it's sex and basketball."
Tracy Letts Solomon Hughes Max Borenstein | Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty HBO
Hyperobject Industries
HBO's flashy new prestige series dramatizing the glamorous 1980s-era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, is a joyously fun time documenting the highs and lows of the NBA's heyday. Based on Jeff Pearlman's book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, every episode showcases multiple aspects of the birth of show business' growing influence over professional sports.

Starring John C. Reilly as new owner Jerry Buss, the drama weaves through the rising popularity of the NBA and its famous superstars. Impressively, they were able to cast two relatively novice actors in Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes as younger versions of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. Winning Time hinges on their ability to embody not only their larger-than-life physicality both playing professional basketball believably as well as sharing dramatic moments of brevity. Furthermore, Jason Clarke and Adrien Brody as sad-sack versions of Lakers' coaches Jerry West and Pat Riley bring a lot of self-loathing gravitas to the show.

Co-created/showrun by screenwriter Max Borenstein and produced by Adam McKay (who directed the pilot), the mishmash of (sometimes distracting) filming methods, breaking the fourth wall, and direct to the audience addresses weaves in various elements of sports documentaries and a sense of classic sports footage amusingly. There's a breakneck showiness to the series's style mirroring the period setting's razzle dazzle.

Regardless of the many factual liberties taken and heightened sense of visual sports storytelling, Winning Time is so much fun with plenty of eye-catching performances building its already legendary real-life characters. Week-to-week, its recreation of the often problematic yet undeniably showy time in both Hollywood and professional sports makes for high-gloss entertainment at its peak. It definitely puts on a show.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty airs weekly on HBO and is available to stream on Crave in Canada.


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