The Showtime Lakers were one of the most exciting teams on the court in the league’s history, and one of the most successful as well. Across the 1980s, the Lakers won five titles and made eight total Finals appearances. Some of the greatest players of all time guided those Lakers sides, as did one of the greatest coaches ever.
And yet, as captivating as the team was on the court, the stories of the exploits off of it are just as wild. On paper, Jeff Pearlman captured many, many of those details in “Showtime: MAGIC, KAREEM, RILEY, AND THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS DYNASTY OF THE 1980S.” The stories captured in the book were so engrossing, in fact, that HBO eventually launched the series “Winning Time” off the back of it.
Led by Adam McKay, “Winning Time” has taken to the screen many of the lesser-known aspects of the Showtime Lakers, creating a drama series with such high expectations that the writers are preparing for multiple seasons.
But as is the case with any drama series based on real-life, the truth is often bent in favor of a good story. Even as incredible a story as the Showtime era was, creative liberties are always taken. Where, then, in a time period filled with so many insane stories, is the line between creative liberty and the truth?
To help answer that question, we will be fact-checking each “Winning Time” episode by using the source material in Pearlman’s book — as well as an occasional internet search — to draw that line between what seems made for TV and what did actually happen.
The series airs on HBO at 9 p.m. ET every Sunday, and keep an eye out for our explainers the next morning, and throughout the week.