Winning Time S2 Finale: The Legacy of 1984 Finals Explained

The finale of Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty season 2 captures the epic clash of the Lakers and Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals. 

The whole season was a build-up to the showdown between the two teams that sparked one of the biggest rivalries in sports history, which still resonates today. The Lakers’ flashy style of play was a stark contrast to the Celtics’ gritty attitude, creating a cultural divide that transcended basketball. The rivalry also involved the team owners Jerry Buss and Red Auerbach, who only wanted one thing more than seeing their teams win: seeing the other team lose!

The seventh episode of Winning Time season 2 captured the epic drama of the 1984 NBA Finals. The series had it all: physical battles, emotional stakes, and unforgettable moments. 

From the sweltering heat of Game 5 to the heroic Game 6 performance by Kareem, who overcame severe migraines, the 1984 Finals were a masterpiece of basketball storytelling. 

Also, this was just the beginning of a fierce rivalry that would define the NBA in the 1980s, as the Celtics and the Lakers faced off four times in the decade, elevating the game to new heights of popularity and passion.

1. Explaining The Lakers’ 1984 NBA Finals Loss To The Celtics

Winning Time S2 Finale: The Legacy Of The 1984 Finals Explained
Winning Time | Source: IMDb
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Winning Time season 2 brilliantly portrays the thrilling saga of the 1984 NBA Finals without compromising on the accuracy and details of the events. 

The Lakers had many opportunities to take a decisive lead in the series, especially in Game 4 at their home turf of The Forum, but the Celtics fought back with sheer determination and grit. 

The Celtics’ never-say-die attitude was a recurring theme of the series, exemplified by Larry Bird’s heroic performance in Game 5 at a scorching Boston Garden. This showed that the series was not about who had more talent or money but who had more hunger and passion for the championship ring.

The Lakers had fixed many of their weaknesses and became a real threat to the title before they reached the 1984 NBA Finals. They had added James Worthy in the second season of Winning Time, a star who could help them go far in the playoffs and set up a dream clash with Bird’s Celtics. 

It would also be the first time Magic and Bird would face each other for the championship since their epic NCAA National Title game in 1979. Bird, who almost quit college to work as a sanitation worker in his hometown, certainly got some payback on Magic for defeating his Indiana State team five years earlier.

2. The 1984 Lakers-Celtics Final Changed the NBA Forever!

The Celtics’ eighth consecutive NBA Championship was a testament to Bird’s versatility and dominance over the Lakers, especially Magic and Buss. However, the Lakers would have their revenge in the 1985 NBA Finals, where they beat the Celtics 4-2 in a historic rematch. 

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry was more than just a basketball feud; it was a saga that began before Bird and Magic even entered the NBA. The 1984 NBA Finals showcased the Showtime Lakers at their peak, as they put on a Hollywoodish display that transcended any previous NBA Championship series.

3. Did Jerry Buss Really Leave the Dynasty’s Future to his Daughter, Jeanie?

Winning Time S2 Finale: The Legacy Of The 1984 Finals Explained
Jerry and Jeanie Buss | Source: IMDb
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The bond between Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson was more than just business. It was a friendship that lasted beyond the court and a legacy that shaped the Lakers’ destiny. However, only one person could carry on his vision when Jerry passed away: his daughter, Jeanie Buss. 

The final episode of Winning Time season 2, brings us back to where it all began: Jerry standing in the middle of the Forum with a bottle in his hand, marveling at the fact that he owned the Lakers and the Forum.

The final scene of Winning Time shows Jerry and Jeanie revisiting their season 1 conversation with a twist. This time, Jeanie hints that she will someday take over her father’s empire. The show foreshadows the real-life events in 2013 when Jeanie Buss became the President and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers after her legendary father passed away. 

She made history as the first female controlling owner of an NBA franchise to win an NBA Championship with the Lakers led by LeBron James in 2020.

4. The Fate of Coaches, Players and Staff After Winning Time Season 2

The Lakers dominated the 80s with their Showtime style, winning three titles in 1985, 1987, and 1988. But their reign ended in 1989 when they were swept by the Pistons, who had stars like Thomas and Rodman. 

Riley, who coached the Lakers to glory and won Coach of the Year in 1990, decided to quit and try his luck elsewhere. He coached the Knicks for a while but then found his home at the Miami Heat in 1995, where he has been both coach and President ever since.

The Lakers were the only team that Magic Johnson ever played for, and he was a star until he had to stop playing in 1991 because he was diagnosed with HIV. He kept the virus at an undetectable level and came back for a short time in 1996 to say goodbye to the game he loved. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also spent his last years with the Lakers, and he scored more points than anyone else in NBA history until 2023, when LeBron James broke his record. 

Jerry West remained the General Manager, making the Lakers a powerhouse again by bringing in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Phil Jackson as coach.

5. What Does Winning Time Season 2 Really Mean?

The Showtime Lakers faced their darkest hour in the season 2 finale of Winning Time. Despite having two NBA Titles under their belt from 1980 to 1982, the Lakers revamped their roster and coaching staff in the next two years to pursue more glory. However, their dreams were shattered by the Celtics in 1984 after losing the NBA Finals for the second time in a row. 

This devastating outcome threatened to undo all the hard work and success the Lakers had achieved. The Lakers had hoped to redeem themselves in 1984 after being swept by the 76ers in the previous NBA Finals. However, instead of proving their strength, the Lakers ended up brokenhearted.

In this way, Winning Time is a faithful portrayal of how one of the most legendary teams and fiercest rivalries took shape in the NBA.

6. About Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is an American sports drama television series created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht for HBO, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman.

The first season, comprising 10 episodes, chronicles the 1980s Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team (beginning in late 1979), featuring notable NBA stars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

It features an ensemble cast led by John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Jason Segel, Gaby Hoffmann, Rob Morgan, and Adrien Brody. The series premiered on March 6, 2022, with the pilot episode directed by Adam McKay. In April 2022, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on August 6, 2023.

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