It’s clear now why the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t fans of the HBO show Winning Time, especially anyone currently working for the team. The show does not resemble their mindset in any way.
In Episode 9, Jeanie Buss is seen as a visionary, in the mold of her father Dr. Jerry Buss. In the show they pause a game to superimpose him on the court as he gives a monologue about how long it took for Roger Bannister to finally be the person to run a mile in under four minutes, and how the next person did it a week later. He did this to make the point that with vision and effort nothing is impossible. Dr. Buss is selling this vision of the Lakers as not only a dynastic basketball team, but also as a Hollywood production to anyone who will buy it.
Jeanie is the same way in the show. Her ideas are so impressive that Claire Rothman, who in real life “ruled the Forum,” goes to the Buss home (while his mother is dying of cancer) and requests that Jeanie Buss be made a full-time team employee. At the time he refuses, but she’s just like him. She had all of these ideas to make the Forum not just a basketball arena, but a premiere venue that hosts Hollywood events.
In actuality, Buss was 18 years old during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1979-80 championship season, and her entry into the business world was at 19 as general manager of the Los Angeles Strings of the now defunct World TennisTeam. Buss was not Rothman’s protege, and didn’t work for the Forum until she was president after Rothman left.
Also, any forward thinking vision that seems to have had is gone, because now that the Lakers are in search of a coach again, she is turning to a person whose offense is as outdated as those posse comments he made about LeBron James a few years ago, Phil Jackson. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Tuesday on NBA Today that Jackson is significantly involved in the process.
Yes, he’s her ex-husband, but that recent run with the New York Knicks should show that his time has passed. Jackson was still influencing then Knicks coach Derek Fisher to run the triangle offense, while Stephen Curry and James Harden were spraying 3-pointers from every angle. It’s bad enough that she has the Rambis family’s tentacles all over the Lakers, now she brought back Mr. Posse.
That’s already going to be awkward with Jackson and James working together, when James was clearly not happy with Jackson referring him and his friends/business associates as a posse. Also, when it comes to vision, having Phil Jackson involved with the process is not exactly the result searching far and wide.
In the show, Dr. Buss offers UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian a king’s ransom to coach the Lakers, and he would’ve have taken the job if not for the mysterious murder of a friend — yes, that scene is very true. He then brings in NBA Champion Dr. Jack Ramsey’s assistant, Jack McKinney as coach, and would end the season with Paul Westhead after McKinney’s accident on his bicycle.
That is a person looking to shake things up. Not Rambis and Rob Pelinka, whose insistence on Jason Kidd being a part of Tyronn Lue’s staff is the reason Lue is across the hallway with the Los Angeles Clippers. After a couple of years as a Laker assistant, Kidd has the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. So after a third disappointing season in four years with James, Jeanie and the Lakers decide that 76-year old Jackson has the answer.
A decision like that is why they all need to put down their pride and watch Winning Time. Sure some of history is changed on the show, but the spirit is there. The spirit that made the Lakers one of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet. However, that only happened because the Lakers were not only good, but they were fresh and an outstanding show and after party.
They thought outside of the box. This version of the Lakers is perpetually stuck inside of it, they wonder why they’ve spent more years out of the playoffs than in them the past 13 years. Just summon the legend, he can save us with his infinite wisdom.
Or, maybe he influences Buss to hire a coach just like him and they end up losing in the play-in tournament next season. A perfect example of why in coaching and story-telling people should always look for outside influence. If they don’t, then they can be stuck with a myopic mess of their own creation.