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.

Stat Of The Day

Once again, professional basketball division. As a sometimes Laker fan and all the time UCLA grad, this really pains me. Russell Westbrook was 4-24 from three in February. 16.7%. And last night he started March out 0-4. Maybe quit shooting them?

A lot of smart basketball people were skeptical of the 21-22 Lakers, but I don’t think anyone expected them to be this bad.

Stat Of The Day

Professional basketball division. Luke Kennard of the Los Angeles Clippers is making 44.6% of all his shots this year, but 44.8% from three. The further away he is from the basket, the (slightly) better he gets. Last night he was 8-9 from 3 in a 142-111 victory over the Houston Rockets.

My “j” is similarly filthy, but I plan on continuing to dunk when the opportunity presents itself.

The Covid Ball Is In The NBA’s Court

From “The NBA’s Big Covid Choice” by Ethan Strauss.

“The NBA actually has an opportunity here to end the precautionary moment, or at least signal its ebb. If commissioner Adam Silver steps forward and announces that his league is ending test protocols and treating this admittedly terrible disease in much the same way we deal with some other respiratory illnesses, that’s a potential cultural shift. The basic plan would be to test players and team officials only if they’re obviously sick (and sit said players if they test positive). And no more of the contact tracing that’s gummed up work behind the scenes of a highly mobile industry. The message could be simple: Look, we can’t functionally operate like it’s 2020; now that the disease is endemic, and vaccines are widely available, we must move into 2022.

This could be an influential move for all the reasons the NBA lockdown was important back in 2020, but now with one new one: The NBA is the archetypal blue state sport. The Covid question has broken along partisan lines, with Democrat-voting spaces far more likely to embrace interventionist measures. If the NBA announces a relaxation, there’s an element of “Nixon goes to China,” a credibility inherent to going against the grain. Such a proclamation grants space if not permission for other non-red world institutions to follow suit and open up despite the surge.”

Do read the whole thing. As thoughtful a rumination on our predicament with the “invisible enemy” as I’ve read. Granted, I might feel that way because I agree with Strauss.

The NBA’s ‘Glass Ceiling’

Becky Hammon, San Antonio’s Assistant Coach, will most likely be the first to break it. She was a finalist for the Portland Trailblazer job that went to Chauncey Billups.

“Please don’t hire me to check a box, Hammons requests.”That’s the worst thing you can do for me. Hire me because of my skill sets and coaching, who am I as a person, hire me for those.”

What Have We Learned?

  1. A sentence I never thought I’d write. The Phoenix Suns are seven wins away from winning the NBA Championship.
  2. In the US Open, the 36 and 54 hole leaders are meaningless.
  3. Louis Oostuhizen is as down-to-earth and classy as they come.
  4. The Seattle Mariners own the Tampa Bay Rays.
  5. Minor sports have feelings too. US Track and Field and US Swimming deserve more and better coverage.  Imagine swimming 1500 meters in 14:46. “Okay, we’re gonna do 15 100’s on the 59.” LOL.
  6. I did not qualify for the Olympics, but the next trials are only three years away.