Winning Time Season 2 Episode 5 Recap: Riley to the Rescue

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty‘ season focuses on the early years of the Lakers’ “Showtime” era as the basketball team struggles to replicate their 1980 NBA Championship-winning season. In the fifth episode, the internal conflicts between the team come to a head when Magic Johnson’s demand to be traded leaves Jerry Buss with an important decision to make. At the end of ‘Winning Time’ season 2, episode 5, a new coach is appointed in the form of Pat Riley, leading to interesting ramifications. Therefore, viewers must be wondering what Riley’s appointment means for the Lakers. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 5 Recap

The fifth episode, titled ‘The Hamburger Hamlet,’ opens with Jerry Buss handling the press after Magic Johnson demands to be traded to another team. On the other hand, the press also questions head coach Paul Westhead about his situation with Magic. Westhead plays down the conflict between him and Magic and assures the press that they have resolved their issues. However, after a game, Magic gives Wsethead the cold shoulder.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

Buss meets Jerry West to discuss solutions to the issue between Magic and Westhead. West suggests firing the head coach, but Buss is against the idea. After returning to Los Angeles, Westhead spends time with his family, who are concerned about the bad press caused by the issue with Magic. Westhead’s daughter encourages him to speak with Magic and resolve the situation or risk getting fired. However, Westhead takes things lightly and reassures his family the situation is under control.

Westhead arrives at the Lakers’ office to meet with Buss. However, Buss is already in a meeting with Magic. In Buss’ cabin, Buss and Magic come to blows after Magic expresses his displeasure for Westhead’s “System” and demands the coach be sacked. Magic claims that Westhead has the team playing high school basketball, barely resulting in wins. Magic refuses to continue playing under Westhead and makes his stand clear. After meeting Magic, Buss meets Westhead and tells the coach he is fired.

Westhead argues with Buss and remarks that a player should not have so much control over the team’s admin decisions. However, Buss reaffirms that it is solely his decision to fire the head coach. Westhead is disappointed and shares an emotional moment with Pat Riley before leaving the Lakers. Riley fears for his own future at the NBA outfit but is informed that he has a meeting with Buss. Meanwhile, Buss asks Jerry West to coach the team as the Lakers’ options are limited in the midseason. However, Buss refuses and suggests appointing Riley as the head coach.

During a press conference, Buss announces the Lakers have parted ways with Westhead. Buss announces West as the offensive captain, with Riley also serving as a coach. The announcement baffles the press, who demand clarification, and West explains that he will help out Riley until the latter takes complete control of the team. As a result, Riley was appointed as the interim head coach of the LA Lakers. On the other hand, Jeanie Buss struggles with her father’s decision to marry Honey. Nonetheless, Buss and Honey get married and start a new chapter in their lives. At the same time, the Lakers begin a brand new chapter with Riley at the helm.

Winning Time Season 2 Episode 5 Ending: Do Lakers Win Under Pat Riley?

The episode features the infamous fiasco that led to the announcement of Riley becoming the Lakers’ head coach. With Westhead fired, Riley steps in to fill the void and already has a friendly relationship with most players on the team from his team as Westhead’s assistant. However, it is not all sunny days under Riley as the Lakers fail to win. While Magic receives the freedom to improvise he craves and continues to play for the Lakers, it fails to translate into wins on the court. Moreover, Riley finds himself slipping away as he fears becoming aggressive and violent like his father under the stress of the job. However, Riley quickly realizes that he has given too much freedom to the players.

Image Credit: Warrick Page/HBO

In the episode’s final moments, Riley is frustrated at his team’s performance at half-time. The Lakers cannot afford to lose, and Riley needs to motivate his players. The players have been blaming each other for their shortcomings on the court, and Riley has not addressed their issues. Riley finally snaps and digs into his team during the half-time team talk. Riley takes a bite out of Magic, Cooper, Nixon, and even captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Riley’s aggression seems to work as it riles up the players, and he wins over their trust. Thus, Riley earns the team’s respect, demonstrated through the Lakers dedicating the team hut to their new coach.

The Lakers make a comeback and win the game, which starts a winning streak. As the Lakers rake up wins and make it to the playoffs, Riley adopts a new “Hollywood” persona, complete with Armani suits that match his stature as the Lakers’ coach. However, it also foreshadows Riley losing himself to the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood, much like Westhead before him. Nonetheless, the Lakers make their way to the 1982 NBA Finals and anticipate facing bitter rivals, Boston Celtics. However, the Celtics crashed out in the semis, setting up a repeat of the 1980 Finals with the Lakers facing the Philadelphia 76ers.

Read More: Winning Time Season 2 Episode 4 Recap and Ending, Explained