The All Lakers documentary goes from Jerry Bass to Jenny


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This is an excerpt from Ben Gulliver’s NBA Post Up Weekly newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news and commentary and the best high jinks from #NBATwitter and R/NBA delivered to your inbox every Monday.

LOS ANGELES – Pat Riley’s 63-win season went down the drain when he learned he could no longer make it to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The legendary coach, known for his slicked-back hair and high-waisted clothes, addressed his team in May 1990, hoping for a second-round rematch against the Phoenix Suns. Desperate to meet during a film session in a hotel lobby, Riley punches a mirror despite blood dripping down his hand. Shortly after that, the Lakers bowed out and the 9-season run of “Showtime” ended.

“I lost it in the game,” Riley admitted in “Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers,” the upcoming documentary. “I could feel the walls closing in. I could feel it and I fought it. I could feel it. [the players] Get away from me. I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind about switching. It was like a war. I couldn’t get down on my knees and ‘mea culpa’ this thing. I had to follow up. Eventually it came down to me calling plays for Magic Johnson. I think he’s probably the only person in my corner.

Riley may not be the brightest star in a Lakers galaxy that includes Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, but he’s probably the most convincing and honest person in “Legacy,” a 10-episode run. Series starting August 15th.

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The comprehensive documentary follows the Lakers from 1979, when Jerry Buss bought the team, until 2020, when Buss’s daughter, Jenny, became the first female owner to win an NBA championship. “Legacy” features interviews with 75 people, including Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and O’Neal, as well as Bass’ children, who are still licking their wounds in a court battle over control of the franchise following the 2013 death of Jerry Bass.

“Legacy” was conceived by Jenny Bass to tell the story of the legendary Jerry Bass and introduce the “Showtime” greats to a younger generation of fans. Jeanie Buss’s devotion to her father is evident throughout, and the series achieves its main goal of portraying the patriarch’s larger-than-life personality and his many contributions to the NBA, including exclusive courtside seating and the “Laker Girls” dance team.

Of course, Lakers nostalgia is a crowded field: Already this year, HBO released “Winning Time,” a drama series based on Jeff Perlman’s “Showtime” book, and Apple TV Plus produced “They Call Me Magic.” – Documentary about Johnson’s class. “Legacy” is the larger and more expansive of these projects, but the first installment covers many of the same plot points as “Winning Time,” a retelling of Johnson’s 1991 HIV diagnosis that surpasses “They Call Me Magic.” “

“I think it’s important to hear the stories from the people who are actually leading them,” Jenny Buss said in a phone interview. “We all know what the result of the trial is and how many champions there are [Jerry Buss] They won. But it’s what’s behind the scenes that makes it a human story. I think people might be surprised at how difficult this business is. You have a high level of winning, but sometimes winning is worth a lot. We encouraged interviewees to share the truth, the good and the bad.

“Legacy” unfolds chronologically, mixing contemporary television broadcasts, rare archival footage and recent interviews from the title years and boardroom drama. There are some real gems: Johnson laughs about his ill-fated coaching career; O’Neill’s respect for Phil Jackson was observed at his coach’s Montana cabin when they first met. And a teenage Bryant gives a speech in front of a high school English class.

“[Bryant] “He’s the best young player I think we’ve ever had here,” Lakers executive Jerry West said in 2015. In 1996, he spoke on Simulating Audio. “I don’t usually predict greatness, but I think he’s going to be great.

Director Antoine Fuqua regularly incorporates multiple narrators to tell richer, more rewarding stories. After the Lakers won the 1987 title, Riley stated that he immediately guaranteed a repeat title in 1988 because his former teams weren’t focused enough on a comeback. Meanwhile, Abdul-Jabbar and his teammates have raised expectations of Riley’s assurances and grumbled about not tasting their victory.

When the subject turned to Jenny Buss’s short-lived marriage to volleyball star Steve Timmons in the early 1990s, she described how the couple’s move to Europe affected her career, while her brother Jim enjoyed mocking Timmons’ flat hair. The viewer can recognize the sibling rivalry throughout Jim’s interviews, and his participation is thanks to the project, because Jeannie fought to take control of the franchise from him and their brother Johnny in 2017.

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“Everyone has a family and everyone can relate to families that have complicated issues at times,” says Jenny Buss. “I was doing it the way my father asked me to do it. Maybe it’s not the way my brothers and sisters think it should be. But the court clearly interpreted the trust my father abandoned, and now that’s behind us. We are slowly coming together as a family.”

Despite Jerry Buss’ playboy reputation, Johnson’s celebrity partying and the inexorable nexus between celebrity and sex in Los Angeles, “Legacy” doesn’t easily delve into sensational material. And while Michael Jordan’s documentary “The Last Dance” relied heavily on score-fixing, dirty talk and interpersonal conflicts, “Legacy” has little interest in sentimentality.

“We want to honor the legacy of Dr. Buss, his family and his team,” Fuqua said. “I’m not a big believer in a lot of extra drama that has nothing to do with the story. It’s not like that,” he said.

This philosophical approach led to some flat stretches in the series, but Riley’s obsession with basketball allowed him to shine. Riley expressed regret at times about how hard he pushed the Lakers, like when Byron Scott was lost to an injury before the 1989 Finals. When the Hall of Fame coach blamed himself for promoting his 1988 book midway through a season, he admitted that “Showtime” fame had changed his personality and inflated his ego.

Riley, now the executive of the Miami Heat, is a vital link in the NBA’s past and present, and far less visible and vocal than Johnson and O’Neal. “Legacy” helps paint a full portrait of real estate mogul Jerry Bass, who was willing to take huge financial risks in his quest to make the Boston Celtics the league’s premier franchise.

In the year Just as Riley was forced to lead the push to keep winning in 1990, Jeannie Buss seemed consumed by the challenge of running the family business. Remarkably, the Lakers made the playoffs in 32 of Jerry Buss’ 34 seasons as owner, then missed the playoffs in the first six seasons after his death.

To the right of the deck, Jennie Buss hugs Johnson, whose close friendship with Jerry Buss was key to the “Showtime” era. Johnson, in turn, signed James to claim the 2020 title, an all-around achievement four decades after Jerry Bass and Johnson won their first championship.

In the year In an interview shortly after the 1980 finals, an elated Jerry Buss described the win as “high.” [of] “That kind of intensity” took “two or two and a half months before you were able to get back to normal.” But 40 years later, 11 championships and a prolonged family power struggle, that childhood joy has given way to more familiarity and protection in his successor.

“The sky looks a little bluer every day after he wins in 2020,” said Jenny Buss. “It was a lot of fun. But as it always does in the NBA, reality crept in. Now that you are the champion, you have a big target on your back.

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