Winning Time Episode 5 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Winning Time‘ reaches the midpoint in its debut season as the Los Angeles Lakers are all set to play the first game of the 1979-80 season. All eyes are on the team as they are going through a transitional phase and new owner Jerry Buss has massive ambitions for the team on and off the court. While Buss tries to make the Lakers’ games a spectacle, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar must find common ground for the team to succeed on the court.

By the episode’s end, the team overcomes almost all its challenges but faces a new one in the closing moments. If you are wondering how the shocking ending of the episode will shape the Lakers’ season and ultimately their dynasty, here is everything you need to know about ‘Winning Time, episode 5! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Winning Time Episode 5 Recap

The fifth episode, titled ‘Pieces of a Man,’ opens with a flashback to the early days of Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr, who adopts Islam at a young age and takes the name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the present, Buss is trying to find the right balance of elegance and glamour for the Lakers’ cheer squad. He also decides to upgrade the bar’s sound system, which makes it difficult for Claire to obtain the necessary permission in time for the Lakers’ first home game of the season. Meanwhile, the Lakers are set to play an away game against the San Diego Clippers as the first match of their season.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Team captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar struggles with a decision over his career and contemplates retiring. He wishes to create an impact on society and raise awareness about racism and racial violence. Elsewhere, McKinney is impressed with Magic Johnson’s work ethic but expects the rookie to show more leadership. McKinney pushes Magic to form a bond with Kareem in a bid to galvanize the team. Simultaneously, Jerry West helps McKinney secure the services of Spencer Haywood.

Before the Lakers’ season opener, Magic tries to communicate with Kareem but finds it difficult to get around his captain’s tough exterior. However, Magic hugs Kareem during the game and encourages him to be more of a team player. On the other hand, Kareem makes a great solo effort in the game, proving his point to McKinney. The Lakers win the game only marginally, raising questions over McKinney’s tactics and their chances of competing for the championship. Meanwhile, Jeanie hires Paula Abdul to lead the lakers’ cheer squad.

Ahead of the Lakers’ first home game under Buss’ ownership at the newly revamped Forum, Buss checks the preparations and approves of Claire’s work. However, Buss contemplates whether his investment in the Lakers will truly make him happy. Shortly before the game, Kareem and Magic have an altercation in the dressing room about their opposing views. Nonetheless, the duo clicks during the game and develops respect for each other. In the end, the Lakers begin to dominate the league and are considered serious title contenders. However, a grave tragedy awaits the team.

Winning Time Episode 5 Ending: What Happened to Jack McKinney? Is He Dead?

By the episode’s end, the Lakers’ squad has been galvanized by the mutual respect between Kareem and Magic. The team is on a roll and wins game after game, quickly rising up the standings. McKinney’s efforts are finally bearing fruit as the team adapts to his playing style and is taking the league by storm. Therefore, McKinney decides to spend some time away from the basketball court. At his wife’s suggestion, McKinney decides to play some tennis with Paul Westhead. McKinney rides a bicycle to the tennis court and beamingly leaves his house with a smile on his face.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

On the road, McKinney narrowly avoids being hit by a car. However, the situation serves as a foreshadowing of the tragedy that is to unfold in the next few moments. In the episode’s closing moments, the gears on McKinney’s lock-up and cause him to fall off the bicycle. The Lakers’ coach is thrown off his ride and lands on his face, sustaining a severe head injury. The episode ends as McKinney lies in the middle of the road.

However, this is certainly not the end of McKinney’s life. In reality, the coach survived the near-fatal accident and lived a full life. Therefore, the same is likely to be true for the fictional version. However, McKinney’s bicycling accident will prove to be a major turning point in the Lakers’ season as it presents another challenge for the team, which is just starting to find its feet.

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