Season 2 is a dizzying ride that pays homage to an era and a franchise that helped shape the world of professional basketball as we know it today. Hilarious, exasperating, and even heartbreaking, the magic has indeed returned.
Overall, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty returns with a solid and, in some ways, even more captivating follow-up that comprehensively sums up a large chunk of basketball history. And in a TV landscape where the amount of sports dramas and documentaries is ever-growing, that’s an impressive accomplishment.
The stylistic flourishes of Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty can be distracting at times, but the story is still solid (even if it’s not fully factual) and the performances are still across-the-board excellent.
Mostly, “Winning Time” reminds us that big stars often possess even bigger egos and fragile, easily wounded feelings. Yet the many good things about the series – from the performances to the basketball sequences, which feel as if they too have upped their game – would be so much better if the producers just dialed down the snark and salaciousness a few notches.
Winning Time’s second season doesn’t elevate the series beyond hitting us with some truly incredible performances, but it’s serviceable television that should please more forgiving NBA fans and sports-history buffs.
Season Two as a whole struggles in many of the same ways that the Showtime-era Lakers did during the years being chronicled, only without any creative highs equivalent to that second title run in 1982. Pat Riley eventually learns to slick back his hair, but the show spotlighting him is even messier than before.