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Derrick Dunn

Winning Time is a slam dunk mini series

Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s receives a television adaptation in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty from HBO. While Rodney Barnes, Max Bornstein, and Jim Hecht handle the scripting duties. 

Episode 1 begins in 1991 as Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) gets life-changing news before returning to the late seventies and introducing us to Dr. Buss.

John C. Reilly instantly commands the screen as Jerry Buss, a real estate mogul looking to purchase the Lakers. Reilly brings an everyman approach to the role, and you naturally want to see his character succeed. I enjoyed this performance from Reilly because he avoids the comedic style we have come to know him for. Instead, here he has a dramatic side with joy in his heart.

I am happy the casting department chose an unknown as it gave me a chance to fully embrace Magic’s story as he rises to the top. Newcomer Quincy Isaiah is a real find as one of the all-time great point guards. Isaiah brings the swagger and confidence his real-life counterpart is known for. The supporting cast includes Rob Morgan as Earvin Sr., Jason Clarke as Jerry West, and Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I also must shout out the acting talent of DeVaughn Nixon, who portrays his father, Norm Nixon.

Nixon has a great moment with Quincy Isaiah in Episode 1 that put a smile on my face. It was great to see so many moments I have read about recreated on the screen. As a non-sports fan, I found the first episode very informative, and I foresee it going over very well with the masses.

Episode 1 of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty premiers this Sunday, March 6th, on HBO. New episodes will air every Sunday for the next ten weeks.

Final Grade: A

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