It’s hard not to consider the new Hulu docuseries on the Lakers titled Legacy to not be a pretty direct response to HBO’s recent drama series Winning Time. While the latter project had very little direct input from the Lakers — and what little it had eventually faded away — the former project is directly connected to the franchise.
Because of the timing and reaction from those associated with the Lakers to Winning Time, there may have been some eye rolls at this docuseries. By their nature, documentaries are often puff pieces with their subjects controlling the narrative and if the Lakers are directly involved, the idea was they would offer a far-from-the-truth viewpoint.
But the truth is, at least through three episodes, Legacy has not followed that model and has been a fascinating peak behind the curtain. There’s obviously no way to guarantee that this will be a truthful or honest depiction of everything that went on with the Lakers, but perhaps the best indication that it would be is the inclusion of Jim Buss among the interviewees.
Since losing out on the battle for control of the Lakers with his sister Jeanie, Jim has stayed in the shadows without much public comment on anything, let alone things related to the Lakers. He isn’t the only member of the Buss family included as all the siblings are interviewed and it feels like lots of things are on the table even when it comes to topics away from the court. They’ve even discussed family life and decisions their father made for their futures.
That alone nearly makes it intriguing enough to finish the rest of the show as they have openly promoted the family drama that eventually comes when Jeanie takes control of the franchise.
But you don’t need to wait for that showdown and the reactions of the family to find interesting nuggets. The show’s opening three episodes all cover the Showtime Lakers of the ‘80s. With Pat Riley, Byron Scott, Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon all speaking rather openly, there are a number of either untold stories or untold details about known ones that have recently come to light.
In the third episode, there are details about the financial problems Jerry Buss found himself in during the late ‘80s with comments from the players and his kids. At the same time, Byron Scott discusses the personal struggles he had as his mother battled drug addiction and entered rehab.
Each are very honest accounts of topics that had not been previously discussed to great lengths, something that appears to be an early theme of the series. And even if you know some or most of these stories, the behind-the-scenes footage and the highlights of games from the Showtime teams are still enjoyable.
It’s easy to view Legacy as a competing project to Winning Time. It’s the stance I had coming into the series. But in reality, it should be viewed as a complementary piece. Winning Time was made to be dramatic based on reality and served its purpose of entertaining audiences. Legacy is made to inform audiences of how things played out based on firsthand experiences through its dozens and dozens and dozens of interviews.
Both have their place and both could easily be considered must-watches for Lakers fans, especially in the heart of the offseason.