Recommended: Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers on Hulu
What's Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers About?
In 1979, with the National Basketball Association hanging by a thread, the Los Angeles Lakers were purchased by real estate developer Dr. Jerry Buss. Under his ownership they became the most successful NBA team of the 80s, establishing Lakers basketball as an entertainment phenomenon. This 10-part documentary is not only a sports success story, but also the tale of a family dynasty, with Buss trying to usher his children into the business.
Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?
Sometimes a subject is just the hot property in Hollywood. In the mid-90s, there were three competing Amy Fisher biopics on TV. A few years ago, both the O.J. Simpson documentary and the limited series arrived within a few months of each other. Right now, we're in the midst of a vogue for the 80s Lakers and the exploits of Dr. Jerry Buss.
For the most part, owners of sports teams are only as compelling as their money. It's hard to imagine that anybody would give a damn about Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft if they didn't have millions of dollars to throw around while feeding their egos. But with his open-collared shirts and playboy lifestyle, Jerry Buss was a different story. It's always made sense that he was the guy who turned a struggling team in a struggling basketball league into the hottest ticket in town, drawing the glitziest stars to Inglewood to watch the best basketball team in the world. Buss's innovations in the sports viewing experience ranged from the on-court product — led by Magic Johnson, the "Showtime" era Lakers prided themselves on a fast and flashy offensive style that was hugely viewer-friendly — to ancillary attractions like the Laker Girls.
This is why it's no surprise that Buss and the Lakers have already been the subject of two recent projects: Winning Time (read our review), the HBO dramatic series that was outrageous enough to draw condemnation from the real-life people involved, and They Call Me Magic (read our review), a more fawning tribute to Magic Johnson.
Legacy, The True Story of the L.A. Lakers lands somewhere between those two projects. It was produced in part by Jeanie Buss, who is currently the controlling owner and president of the Lakers, and while her late father's carousing is definitely mentioned (it was part of his brand, after all), this isn't a series that's out to expose him. Indeed, all of his business decisions, brushes with financial collapse, and meddling in the basketball operations of his team are painted with the most generous brush.
What makes Legacy intriguing — especially in light of who's producing it — is how much it insists on being a story not just about the Lakers, but about the Buss family dynasty. Jerry Buss died in 2013 (he appears in this series via archive interview footage), and while Jeanie is the controlling owner, the team is officially owned by the Buss Family Trust. From the opening minutes of the series, it's clear that the six Buss siblings have had their share of rivalry.
Is the story of the Lakers more interesting as the tale of a multi-millionaire owner who moved his kids around like chess pieces? Maybe! There are only so many times you can hear about Magic vs. Bird or even the Shaq-Kobe rivalry. Your mileage may vary on how fascinating you find a bunch of rich kids squabbling over their sporting inheritance, but at the very least you've got director Antoine Fuqua making it all move at a brisk pace (and at ten hour-long episodes, that's a feat).
Pairs well with
TOPICS: Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers, Hulu, A.C. Green, Antoine Fuqua, Byron Scott, Flea, Jamaal Wilkes, James Worthy, Jeanie Buss, Jerry Buss, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Luke Walton, Magic Johnson, Mark Cuban, Pat Riley, Rick Fox, Rob Lowe, Shaquille O'Neal