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'Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers' Plays It By the Book

May 12, 2023May 12, 2023

Every show is Showtime nowadays. We saw HBO's Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty this past spring, taking sides on mounds upon mounds of beef along the way. Apple TV+'s They Call Me Magic debuted shortly after. Of course, you're guaranteed a Lakers segment about once per hour on SportsCenter, damn near year-round.

That train rolls on today: Hulu just dropped the first two episodes of Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers, a 10-episode docuseries that chronicles the iconic franchise, starting with the year Jerry Buss bought the team (1979) and continuing on to the present day. Now, if you'll remember, during the fuss over Winning Time's accuracy, the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar kept repeating that Legacy would tell the real story. And while it's worth noting that the great Lakers CEO Jeanie Buss, daughter of Jerry, is an executive producer (which Antoine Fuqua directs), as The Last Dance showed us, involvement from the subjects of a sports doc doesn't necessarily make for a snoozy product. Unfortunately this is no Last Dance. Instead, Legacy offers a by-the-book tale of good fortune, smart business, and another chance watch to some of the best basketball that's ever been played. Which is admirable, no doubt. It's just not always that fun.

Let's start with the good. Anything that manages to put legends such as Jeanie Buss, Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, James Worthy, Pat Riley, and many more in the interview chair is more than worth the watch. Basketball diehards will no doubt get a kick out of Lakers super-fan Rob Lowe pointing out exactly which '80s flicks stole Riley's slick look. Same goes for a faithful retelling of Showtime's origin story by the people who lived through it, even if the tale doesn't exactly offer too much new information. Plus, it's always a pleasure to hear Jeanie talk about her dad, who appears throughout much of the docuseries via archival footage. If you enjoyed ESPN's 30 for 30, Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies, there are a few great Larry Bird moments for you, too. Even Jerry West finally gets a chance to tell his side of the story.

But as the first two episodes wear on you get a sense for why Winning Time decided to play fast and loose with its source material—it had to. Unlike, say, the clearly unresolved feud between Isiah Thomas and Jordan, which both men were very happy to talk about in The Last Dance, Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson are long past rehashing old beef. Same goes for just about everyone interviewed for the documentary. In fact, it all, so far, highlights that Winning Time's headfirst, intentionally over-the-top dive into the mess is exactly what made it such a blast. Probably wasn't something you could do if the Lakers front office had to sign off on the final cut!

Now, Legacy has a long road ahead, which will surely prove more enticing, considering that it'll move far past the Showtime days. Surely, Shaq and Bronny will liven things up, right? Here's hoping.

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