Winning Time Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: Magic’s New Contract

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

The third episode of HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ season 2  sees team owner Jerry Buss dealing with the aftermath of the Lakers falling apart in the 1980-81 NBA season’s final stages and crashing out in the first round of the Playoffs. As Buss tries to fix the issues with the players and management, he faces a new dilemma when Magic asks for a long-term contract extension. The ending of ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ season 2, episode 3, aims to resolve the conflict over Magic’s contract negotiation and answers whether Magic signs a new deal and how it impacts the team. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 3 Recap

The third episode, titled ‘The Second Coming,’ opens with Jerry Buss and Magic Johnson watching their bitter rivals, Red Auerbach and Larry Bird, lifting another NBA Championship trophy. However, watching their rivals succeed only seems to fuel Buss and Magic’s desire to win. A flashback to 1974 shows Larry Bird visiting his father in his hometown in Indiana. Bird explains he dropped out of college, but his father encourages him that a better future lies ahead of him if he pursues a college education. Another flashback to 1975 reveals Bird’s father dying from suicide, which results in Bird using basketball to ease his pain and poverty.

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In 1981, Magic teaches basketball to children at a camp but finds himself distracted by the loss from the previous season. Magic also learns that his teammate Michael Cooper has signed a new long-term contract with the LA Lakers. Meanwhile, Jerry Buss tries to discover what caused the team’s defeat in the 1981 NBA Playoffs. Jerry West, Paul Westhead, and Norm Nixon each have different opinions about the failure. Moreover, Magic asks for a contract extension despite having five years left on his current contract. However, Bill Sherman and West advised Buss to delay contract negotiations with Magic.

Meanwhile, Buss furthers his relationship with Honey Kaplan while Jeanie gets sidelined from his business plans. Magic talks to Cookie about Buss not making time for him. However, he has been committed to playing for the Lakers for a long time. Nonetheless, Cookie advises Magic to be cautious before committing a long-term future to the franchise. Paul Westhead and Jerry West butt heads over the roster choices for the upcoming season. Westhead announces he is bringing on a new assistant coach but still wants Riley to stick around. However, when Westhead trades Jim Chones to another team without consulting Riley, it leads to a falling out between the two.

Flashbacks reveal how Bill Hodges convinced Larry Bird to join Indiana State University and helped Bird take the first steps to becoming a professional basketball player. Later, Bird was picked by the Boston Celtics in the 1979 NBA draft but did not sign a contract with the team. As a result, Red Auerbach personally visited Bird and convinced him to sign for the Celtics over the Lakers by promising to build a franchise squad around him. Buss approves Westhead’s decision to sign Mitch Kupchak, and Westhead trades away Chones.

Westhead and Riley argue after the trade, and Westhead explains he does not want Riley to undermine his authority. However, Westhead also claims he appreciates Riley’s input but disapproves of his assistant making decisions for players behind his back. Riley is enraged at Westhead for accusing him of betraying the mutual trust between them and reminds Westhead that he respected the head coach before anyone took him seriously. On the other hand, Magic meets Buss to discuss his future with the LA Lakers. Buss has his hands full with other problems that could arise from giving Magic a new contract.

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 3 Ending: Does Magic Get a New Contract?

The episode’s final act sees Magic sitting down for a contract negotiation with Jerry Buss. Magic explains that he wants to be with the LA Lakers for life and wants to extend his contract. Magic also reveals that his knee injury forced him to contemplate his future, especially after seeing how easily players are disposed of in the NBA. Buss reassures Magic that he considers his star player like a family member. However, extending Magic’s contract opens a whole new can of worms Buss does not want to deal with.

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Nonetheless, Magic and Buss agree after Magic commits to taking a leadership role within the franchise that goes beyond his playing career. Ultimately, Magic extended his contract with the Lakers and signed for twenty-five years in a deal worth $25 million. However, Magic and Buss agree to keep the details a secret for now. Magic speaks with Cookie about his new deal. However, they end up arguing after Cookie implies that she would be unwilling to move to Los Angeles. In the episode’s final moments, Buss invites Norm Nixon for brunch with him and Magic.

Buss asks Norm to speak freely about his opinions on Magic taking center stage within the team. Before starting the new season, Buss wants to clear the air between Norm and Magic. He argues that if Norm and Magic cannot find a way to work and play together for the team’s success, he will have to trade Norm. However, Norm swallows his pride and makes amends with Magic, keeping him with the Lakers. Thus, the episode ends with Magic and Buss reforging their partnership and trusting each other in their hunger for success. Their relationship mirrors their bitter rivals, Red Auerbach and Larry Bird, who have tasted success together. As a result, the episode’s ending sets up the foundation for the Lakers-Celtics rivalry to get even more intense in the next NBA season.

Read More: Winning Time Season 2 Episode 2 Recap and Ending, Explained