Winning Time

HBO’s Winning Time is the story of the Los Angeles Lakers 1979 season.

Apparently the Lakers hate it, but I dig it. The Lakers don’t like it because they aren’t making any money from it, they have no control over how the story is told, and it reminds people how good they were in past incarnations.

Also, Magic doesn’t like it because he has a documentary coming out that covers a lot of the same territory. And being famously surly, Kareem doesn’t like it because he doesn’t like much of anything.

I await each episode because I was living in SoCal at the time and a huge Laker fan. Apart from apparently exaggerating Jerry West’s anger management issues, the casting is outstanding.

Also, the attention to period detail is Mad Men-like, meaning off-the-charts.

At the end of a recent episode the Lakers have a day off. Laker coach Jack McKinney‘s wife informs him she’s taking the car and he should go play tennis with Paul Westhead, his ace assistant. After she leaves, the workaholic coach begins scribbling in his notebook, then suddenly heads to the garage of his suburban home to grab his racquet and shiny red Schwinn bicycle.

The next 90 seconds are shot mostly via drone. The successful but simple workaholic, the home, the street, the neighborhood, the sunlight, the Beach Boy music, the Schwinn all felt bizarrely familiar. I wasn’t watching someone else’s life as much as reliving my own. My dad played tennis most weekends in the 1970s in SoCal. He didn’t ride his Schwinn, but there was one in the garage. Long story short, the producers magnificently nailed the ethos of time and place.

One other less obvious thing to note. The fact that the Laker coach’s family only had one car speaks volumes about the NBA’s fledging status in 1979.

Highly recommended. As long as you’re at least 17 years old and not too prudish.

Paragraph To Ponder

“After the Lakers’ disappointing flame-out last season, general manager Rob Pelinka was under pressure to assemble a roster after holding out for, then missing on, Kawhi Leonard. He didn’t bring in a third star, but it’s worth noting that Alex Caruso, Rajon Rondo, Markieff Morris and Dwight Howard (!) made up just 7 percent of the team’s salary cap, while ultimately contributing far more than that to the Lakers’ championship run.”

From “LeBron And AD Are The Heroes. But The Sum Of This Lakers Club Was More Than Its Superstar Parts”.

Live As If Life Is Fragile

I spent the 1980s in Los Angeles. I was down with the Purple and Gold, even buying a scalped ticket one June day mid-decade outside the Fabulous Forum for a decisive championship victory against the Celtics. Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Cooper, Wilkes. Showtime.

But I was never really a Kobe guy like my mom.

Partly because of Colorado.

And I didn’t understand how he couldn’t get along with Shaq.

And I didn’t like his final, post achilles seasons, as the franchise spiraled downwards.

But since Sunday, I’ve read a lot and learned many things that I didn’t know. I deeply respect that he inspired way more people way more than I realized.

I especially liked this. “A Lasting Friendship: Kobe Bryant and His High School English Teacher”.

And, as a fellow “girl dad”, this.

My mom was wise, she probably saw things I didn’t or wasn’t able to. It’s sad she barely out-lived him.

Nine lives ended too soon. The only way to respond is to not take for granted whatever time we have left. Live as if life is fragile.

We’re All Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Lew

When I was a pipsqueak, switching sports with the seasons, my guys were Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and later, Magic “Earvin” Johnson.

Now my favorite superstars are Dave Gordon, Lance Matheson, and Dan Mathis.

It’s kinda hard to believe Kareem is 64 now. It seems like yesterday I was in college, squatting in front of our fuzzy t.v. in a Palms apartment, as Mark Eaton watched helplessly as Kareem’s “most points in NBA history” setting baseline skyhook hit nothing but net.

Kareem has always been cerebral, aloof, and apparently, not too personable.

Last week, he said he felt slighted by the Lakers since they hadn’t built a statue for him yet out in front of LA’s Staples Center. That complaint could convince me to never erect a statue, but after digging a little bit into the context, I realized Kareem, just like all of us at times, feels unappreciated.

If Kareem felt appreciated by the Lakers, I doubt he’d sweat the statue. The Lakers in essence have said it’s tough to appreciate Kareem, given his aloof, prickly personality. He’s made his own bed.

Some of my co-workers don’t feel fully appreciated by others at work. Some of my friends don’t feel fully appreciated by their partners. Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t feel fully appreciated by Barack Obama. Maria Shriver feels unappreciated. I don’t like that I feel unappreciated at times.

I wish I was more self sufficient when it comes to feeling appreciated.

But the truth of the matter is I’d like a statue too. A couple of ’em. One for three decades of conscientious teaching. Another for three months of extra cooking and cleaning while the galpal fights plantar fasciitis. And another for Friday’s lawn work.

Maturity is one’s ability to show appreciation for others without worrying about it being returned in equal measure. The challenge is to switch from “Woe am I, so unappreciated” to “I resolve to out-appreciate you.”

Ever deepening selflessness, characterized by ever increasing appreciation for others, is a key ingredient of a life well lived.