At this point, six episodes into HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, we have a total embarrassment of riches. There’s the newcomer Solomon Hughes giving us a brilliant portrayal of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jason Clarke cracking us up as Jerry West. And, of course, Tasty Ice. Never forget.
With four episodes to go, we’re beginning to fall in love with another performance, that of Jason Segel as Paul Westhead. Now, before we really get going, one disclaimer: We’re going to keep trying to avoid any potential Winning Time spoilers by keeping our discussion of the relevant history to the current episode. So, following Jack McKinney’s bicycle accident, Westhead has become the interim head coach of the Lakers. Segel imbues Westhead, who actually was an English teacher prior to coaching, with a high-strung nervousness, but, importantly, also makes very clear just how much the man loves the game. Since it seems (nudge, wink) like Westhead is primed to take a bigger role in Winning Time, let’s talk about what was the best non-Phil Knight moment in Episode Six. That’s right, the press conference.
The Lakers hold a presser to introduce Westhead as the interim head coach, while McKinney recovers from his injuries, and Westhead completely biffs it. He quotes Shakespeare, goofs up when answering questions about McKinney, and earns the death glare of all death glares from Jerry West. We hate to report this, but as of now, we’re unable to find footage or a precise record of the gathering, so it may very well be another Winning Time TV-ified moment. But rest assured, there’s a lot, a lot more to the story.
We’ll update this post next week as history plays itself out, but we’ll leave you with one last thing.Westhead’s love of Shakespeare? All real. This is Westhead’s brilliant, famous quote about the legendary writer: “If Shakespeare had been in pro basketball, he never would have had time to write his soliloquies about him. He would have always been on a plane between Phoenix and Kansas City.”
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