Utah Jazz, Salt Lake City Connections In HBO’s Winning Time: Rise Of Lakers Dynasty
Sep 19, 2023, 1:03 PM | Updated: 5:09 pm
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY – HBO’s stab at documenting the tumultuous rise of the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty with the show Winning Time became popular with NBA fans across the country, but did you know there are a few connections to the Utah Jazz in the show?
Without spoiling anything that isn’t already all over the internet, fans of Winning Time might be having a tough day because it was recently announced the show will not have a third season and that the season two finale, which premiered Sunday, September 17, would actually be the series finale.
The first season focused on the Lakers drafting Magic Johnson with the number one pick in 1979 through the team winning an NBA title in 1980, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers. The first season also showcased Johnson’s developing, and at times taxing, relationship with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and other teammates. It also featured his budding rivalry with Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird.
Season two of Winning Time feels like it travels at the speed of light, covering everything from the 1980 championship series up to the 1984 Finals… fans of basketball (and especially the Lakers) know this might be the worst possible place in time for the show to end.
During the first season of the show, there are two connections to the Utah Jazz.
Winning Time Connections To Utah Jazz
Ron Boone From Laker To Jazzman
During season one, fans of the Utah Jazz who listen to the games on the radio likely heard (and saw) a familiar name – Ron Boone.
Winning Time shows a dramatized version of a scuffle between Johnson and Boone that Johnson later confirmed in his Apple TV docu-series, They Call Me Magic.
“We were in practice, I was boxing out Ron Boone,” Johnson said. “All of a sudden I looked up at the rim and the ball, and he had hit me right behind my head really hard, and he was smiling.”
Boone had been in the ABA and the NBA for 10 years before being traded to the Lakers in 1978.
“The next time he’s boxing me out, ‘Oh, Ron Boone?’ Let’s see what you got.” Johnson recalled. “You think first of all you drafted the wrong dude? I got some for you. So I ran in as fast as I could and I hit him as hard as I could. He shouldn’t have woke that quiet bear up, so he woke me up.”
Boone’s run in LA didn’t last long after Johnson’s arrival, nor did his tenure as a character the HBO show. The scrappy forward was traded to the Jazz in October of 1979 where Boone would play the final two years of his career.
Magic Johnson’s HIV Diagnosis
The show made a creative choice to feature Johnson’s HIV diagnosis as the first scene in the first episode of the show, the clock then rewinds to begin telling the story of the Lakers when Dr. Jerry Buss bought the team.
The real Johnson announced his diagnosis and retirement in November of 1991. According to the Los Angeles Times, before the diagnosis and after playing his last two exhibition games on October 22 and 23, he began feeling ill after flying to Salt Lake City and returned home before a preseason game against the Jazz.
Magic Johnson Asks For Trade In Salt Lake City
Season Two of Winning Time followed the storyline of Johnson’s historic contract with the Lakers and the team drama that followed. It’s hard to know exactly what drama was real and what was embellished for the show, but we do know that some NBA coaches, players and media viewed Johnson as somewhat of a villain after he signed the 25-year, $25 million contract.
It is well known that Johnson and then coach Paul Westhead didn’t agree on how to run the Lakers’ offense and after 113-110 win over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Johnson told members of the media he wanted a trade.
”I can’t play here anymore,” Johnson said (The New York Times). ”I want to leave. I want to be traded.”
Soon after, Westhead was fired and Pat Riley (played by Adrien Brody who deserves awards for his performance) slicked back his hair and became the coach of the Lakers.
KSL Logos Featured In Episode 4
In the episode where Johnson asks for a trade in Salt Lake City, you can see two KSL logos – one during the game at the Salt Palace and one during the infamous media scrum.
— Alex Kirry (@AlexKirryKSL) August 29, 2023
Danny Ainge Name Drop In Season Finale
And finally, in the season-turned-series finale of Winning Time Danny Ainge’s name gets dropped over a radio broadcast of the 1984 NBA Championship series between the Lakers and Celtics.
Ainge currently serves as the CEO of basketball operations for the Utah Jazz. He played for the BYU Cougars from 1977–1981 before being drafted into the NBA and playing for the Celtics, Kings, Trail Blazers and Suns.
Did you catch any other connections to the Utah Jazz or Salt Lake City in Winning Time?
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