Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

Words by Charles Odugbesan

This past week, an excitable crowd were in attendance at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square to watch Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. Special mention must be given for the VampUK team for hosting the midweek event. 

1979. Businessman Jerry Buss stakes his fortune on the purchase of the NBA’s lackluster Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, the team’s head coach, Jerry West, bristles at the prospect of drafting college phenom Earvin Johnson – who must decide if he’s ready to live up to the mantle of his nickname: Magic.

The 1970’s were widely known as not being the strongest of periods for the NBA. Short of 6 time champion Kareem Abdul Jabbar, the league was lacking in a host of star quality players that could garner serious popularity and attention to the sport. Much in contrast to the decades that were to immediately follow. Stocks at the time were pretty low in the game. 

1979. Businessman Jerry Buss stakes his fortune on the purchase of the NBA’s lackluster Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, the team’s head coach, Jerry West, bristles at the prospect of drafting college phenom Earvin Johnson – who must decide if he’s ready to live up to the mantle of his nickname: Magic.

Despite all of that, it didn’t deter one Gerald “Jerry” Buss whose infatuation with the game led him in 1979 to swap real estate for the Staples Center, as he became the new owner of the Los Angeles Lakers. This is essentially where the Winning Time series begins. Sky have endeavoured to produce a 10 part series detailing the rise and rise of the Showtime Lakers. A success story spearheaded by the ambition of the late Mr Buss off the court and the genius of one Earvin “Magic” Johnson between the white lines. 

1979. Businessman Jerry Buss stakes his fortune on the purchase of the NBA’s lackluster Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, the team’s head coach, Jerry West, bristles at the prospect of drafting college phenom Earvin Johnson – who must decide if he’s ready to live up to the mantle of his nickname: Magic.

“I’d rather build things than blow them up.” These were some of Jerry Buss’ first words to Magic Johnson before the latter was officially drafted into the league from college. And together these two men would spend the next decade negotiating famed Hollywood culture, cross country opposition and all things in between to build the dynasty that was the 80s Lakers Franchise.

The first 4 episodes of this gripping series will be available to watch on Sky Atlantic from Monday March 28th. Be sure to tune in!

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