Movie Reviews

Winning Time: Why Jerry West Quit Coaching The Lakers In 1979

HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty episode 2 ends with Jerry West quitting, and here’s why he stopped coaching the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. The series primarily revolves around the roles that Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson played in revamping the Lakers franchise during the 1980s, but Jerry West also plays a central role. A former Los Angeles Lakers star player, Jason Clarke’s Winning Time character begins the series as the angry head coach of the organization.

After Jerry West retired from playing in the NBA, he immediately began coaching the Lakers, leading Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the rest of the team to three straight playoff appearances. However, Winning Time episode 1 made it clear West and Buss didn’t see eye-to-eye right away, as they even had different ideas on who the Lakers should draft. Once Sidney Moncrief wasn’t drafted, Winning Time episode 2 shows West wallowing in his misery that he’ll have to play Magic Johnson. Despite him eventually gaining some excitement for the upcoming season and tormenting Magic, it didn’t last, as the episode ended with the Lakers needing a new head coach.

Related: Winning Time: What Happened To Sidney Moncrief After Lakers Didn’t Draft Him

Jerry West’s decision to quit coaching the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979 at the end of Winning Time episode 2 was done for a few different reasons potentially. The explanation that Adam McKay’s HBO show directly sets up is the impact coaching has had on West’s marriage and happiness. Winning Time episode 2 shows how Jerry West routinely shuts down before a new season starts. He’d bunker down in the guest house and not talk to his wife or anyone else for days. Once Jerry West emerges from his secluded state, his wife says that she can’t keep dealing with the effects coaching has on his mood and their marriage. As a result, Winning Time episode 2 heavily implies that Jerry West quits coaching the Lakers to help keep his marriage healthy and happy.

There is also another reason for Jerry West quitting that Winning Time hints at. One of the main focuses of Winning Time episode 2 is Jerry West’s basketball career, as the series shows him as a kid, winning the 1972 NBA Finals, and more. Failure and a lack of happiness even when winning are highlighted during these moments. This all comes into focus during a conversation with Lakers executive Bill Sharman in Winning Time episode 2. Sharman knows Jerry is miserable coaching and believes that he’s scared to have full control of the roster because then he can’t blame anyone else if the Lakers lose again. It is possible there is some truth to this statement and these are additional reasons West quit coaching.

Although Winning Time episode 2 ends on a cliffhanger of Jerry West quitting, this isn’t exactly where his time with the Los Angeles Lakers ends. He goes on to still have a promising future with the team, just in a different capacity, which should be explored as the 1980s Lakers dynasty really begins. However, that future does not include a return to coaching, meaning the Los Angeles Lakers will be looking for a new coach after Winning Time episode 2.

More: Winning Time: How & When Earvin Became Known As Magic Johnson

New episodes of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty release every Sunday on HBO/HBO Max at 9 pm EST.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button