“Legacy” Lakers documentary: Episode 1 Recap

Image from Hulu of Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers

Well, that’s a wrap. One of the greatest television shows aired its series finale on Monday night. Better Call Saul has come to an end, leaving a gaping hole in millions of viewers’ television viewing schedules. But don’t worry folks, ignore my shameless plug into one of my favorite TV shows in recent memory. Because when one things come to an end, another thing is always ready to take its place, and in this case, it’s Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers.

Hulu and the Lakers organization teamed up for this 10-part documentary that takes you through Dr. Jerry Buss purchasing the Lakers in 1979 to the current state of the team. The show will feature prominent figures from the Buss family, along with prominent Laker legends. On Aug 15th, Hulu premiered the first two episodes of the series. Here is the recap of the first episode.


The documentary takes us back to 1979, the start of the Buss era with the Lakers. After briefly meeting all of Dr. Buss’ children, the stage is set in 1979, the year the Lakers were purchased by the family. The Lakers were in bad shape and so was the NBA. Luckily for the Lakers, this is where we get introduced to Magic Johnson. For those of you who watched HBO’s “Winning Time”, this is where you start seeing some glaring differences. It seemed like the Lakers had no issues selecting Magic and that they didn’t agree with the portrayal of Jerry West as an angry lunatic.

One surprising note was the confirmation of the Jerry Tarkanian situation with Victor Weiss. The Lakers were desperate for an experienced head coach once Jest West decided to resign and Dr. Buss wanted UNLV’s Tarkanian. Buss met with his representative Weiss, but it is rumored that the mafia wasn’t happy losing Tarkanian so they decided to take action. Weiss ended up dead in a trunk of a Rolls Royce; the Buss family was shaken by this and it truly affected them in their first year of ownership.

The doc then begins to dig into Dr. Buss as a father and his lack of presence in their childhood. Part of the reason he wanted his children to be involved in the family business was not only to groom them, but more importantly be a present father. The scene then shifts back to Magic’s rookie year and how he made his impact felt immediately. The documentary does make mention of the personality difference between Magic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and how their relationship was tough to mend at first, just as was depicted in “Winning Time”.

As the Lakers start winning, the revolutionary Dr. Buss creates the environment of “showtime” with celebrities flooding games; the creation of the Laker Girls, and raising floor seats to $65 (Not a bad price point, huh?).

Even though the documentary involved the Lakers organization, I was surprised they spoke about Dr. Buss’s exploits with young women back in the day. One surprising part was the inclusion of Dr. Buss’s scrapbook of all the beautiful women he had dated, which would not be well received in this day and age.

Lastly, the documentary takes us to them winning their first championship under Dr. Buss and Magic. With Kareem getting hurt in Game 5, most of us know how Magic famously stepped up in Game 6 to bring back home the title.

Just when I thought the first episode was done, it fast forwards to the following year where they lose to the Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. That then leads to a rocky start the following year where Magic is unhappy with head coach Paul Westhead. The first episode ends with Magic requesting a trade because he is unhappy with the style of play and the constraints applied to him by Westhead. Quite the cliffhanger for people not familiar with the outcome.

Overall, the first episode was very informative. Given that there hasn’t been much news on the Lakers front, this was nice to dive into.

Stay tuned for the episode 2 recap!

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