Winning Time Season 2 Episode 4 Recap and Ending, Explained

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ is a sports drama series that explores the LA Lakers’ “Showtime” era during the 1980s. The second season follows the Lakers as they try to build upon their Championship winning season under head coach Paul Westhead. In the fourth episode, the Lakers prepare for a new season after facing bitter disappointment in the previous one. However, tensions start rising in the team when Westhead and star player Magic Johnson no longer see eye to eye. If you are wondering what happens to the Laksers amidst the conflict between Westhead and Magic, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty’ season 2 episode 4! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 4 Recap

The fourth episode, titled ‘The New World,’ opens during the 1981-8 NBA preseason. The LA Lakers play a friendly game against arch-rivals Boston Celtics. Although the Lakers are leading at half-time, the Celtics do not play any of their starting players, adding insult to their playoff loss in the previous season. The players discuss the team’s direction under Paul Westhead, and Magic Johnson is particularly unhappy with Westhead’s style of play. However, Westhead takes the performance against the Celtics as proof of his “System” benefitting the team.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Meanwhile, the news of Magic Johnson signing a 25-year contract worth $25 million is leaked to the press, landing the spotlight on Magic, who is already struggling in Westhead’s system. Reporters swarm Magic, and the news creates a rift between him and his teammates. On the other hand, Westhead adds Kurt Rambis to the squad out of spite for Jerry West. Jerry Buss meets Jerry West, Bill Sherman, and Paul Westhead to discuss handling the squad following the news of Magic’s contract leaking.

After much deliberation, Buss refuses West and Sherman’s suggestion to fire Westhead. Instead, Buss supports Westhead and allows him free reign over player management. However, Buss warns Westhead that if he fails to win this season, he could be fired from his job. Later, Buss asks for Jeanie’s help to pick out an engagement ring for his girlfriend, Honey. Buss reveals he is marrying Honey, which upsets Jeanie. Elsewhere, Westhead speaks with team captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who reassures the head coach that he will continue to serve the Lakers until his contract ends.

Westhead reiterates his rigid system before the first game of the new NBA season. However, the Lakers get off to a poor start, and Magic sticks out like a sore thumb in the lackluster squad. Nonetheless, Westhead manages to turn things around and goes on a winning streak. However, West worries that the Lakers are barely managing to edge out their opponents when their squad quality should result in emphatic victories. Magic believes improvisation is the key to succeeding on the pitch, but he is strictly prohibited from it because of Westhead’s system.

Pat Riley suggests some tweaks to the system that allow some room for creativity, but Westhead turns them down. As a result, tension starts building between Riley and Westhead over team management. Furthermore, Magic’s efforts to get his teammates to rally against Westhead’s system fail miserably. Abdul-Jabbar advises Magic to drink his ego and play for the team’s benefit, while Riley asks Magic to try Westhead’s system with all his heart. When Magic overhears Riley and Westhead’s heated argument about his role in the team, the star player ditches the team bus, making his disdain for the coach evident.

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 4 Ending: What Happens Between Magic and Westhead?

Ultimately, the Lakers face the Indiana Pacers, coached by former Lakers coach Jack McKinney. The Lakers’ frailties are on full display during the match as McKinney’s team decimates their offense. However, Westhead insists on sticking to his system and barely secures a win for the team due to a last-minute mistake from the Pacers while on offense. Despite the victory, the tension between Magic and Westhead only rises in the following match, when Magic openly disagrees with Westhead at the timeout. He also feuds with the fans and refuses to listen to Westhead. Magic almost leaves the court and abandons the match but remains behind because of Abdul-Jabbar’s advice.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

The Lakers escape with a narrow victory, but Westhead is enraged at Magic for disobeying him. Westhead confronts Magic in the store room, and a heated altercation ensues, highlighting the irreconcilable differences between the coach and the player. Westhead threatens to bench Magic for the rest of the season, and Magic agrees since he argues Westhead cannot use his skills to the team’s benefit. However, Westhead exerts his power over Magic, warning the player that he is not above the team. On the other hand, Magic sees the altercation as the last straw and entirely gives up on making things work. The episode ends with the press seeking answers from Westhead and Magic about the tension between them. Westhead opts for a diplomatic route and responds vaguely to the press. However, Magic openly announces his desire to be traded to another team.

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