As the Lakers continue their successful run, Paul and Pat are forced to reckon with the tenuous nature of their positions. Then, Earvin meets his childhood hero at the NBA All-Star game, where he receives some sage advice. Jessie convinces Jeanie to help shield her father from a devastating truth.
TRACY LETTS- What the show does with the return of Jack McKinney is.. interesting. What has happened is akin to a wrestler turning into a bad guy when he was once a good guy. The Emmy-worthy work of Tracy Letts so far in the show is amplified here. The unofficial return of McKinney looms over all of the momentum and joy of the locker room in a very cheerless and unenthusiastic way.
It says a lot about the screen presence of Tracy Letts in that he’s flat out menacing at times. However, he is doing nothing more than what he did when the character was likable. His physical presence is exactly the same, yet he’s here under different circumstances. And you can see that he’s here to cause a major shift in the team’s operations.
THE RILEY/WESTHEAD TAG TEAM – For some reason, this episode seems to be dedicated to making likable characters earlier in the season into absolutely unlikable characters. That is, except for the wonderful combination of Adrien Brody and Jason Segel. Everything that they share props up this otherwise disappointing episode of TV.
Whether it be celebrating their first-place standing with the team in the locker, or discussing how to deal with the impending maelstrom that is the return of Jack McKinney, Pat Riley, and Paul Westhead are easily the most sympathetic characters in the show right now. And this show is in dire need of some sympathetic characters.
DOCTOR J – Being someone who has met Julius Erving in real life, I can tell you he is a very very nice man. And I love the way they portrayed him in this episode and he was as nice as I remembered him. However, these are professional athletes with egos, and one wonders how one gets to be as great as Doctor J could be so nice.
This show has done a tremendous job of showing the spirit of competitiveness and how it breaks down people personality-wise. This episode does a wonderful job of portraying how Doctor J used his niceness to throw off his opponents and not break them. There is a stark contrast to Doctor J’s methods that aren’t there with Johnson or Bird. He really was out here playing chess when everyone else was playing checkers.
LINE OF THE WEEK
“Larry got the whiteness, but he ain’t got the Force. All that mumbling and mean-mugging. You, need you…a Jedi.
-Magic Johnson accurately explaining to the commissioner of the difference between him and Larry Bird whilst using STAR WARS references.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE
JACK MCKINNEY – Tracy Letts, being the MVP of this episode, doesn’t hide the fact that there’s a serious problem in the portrayal of the motives of Jack McKinney. Why exactly is this stick up his ass? At this point in the show, Jerry Buss has no faith in either of his assistants to give him a championship and has all of the faith in McKinney. The team is winning under his offense that he created and everybody knows he created it. He’s rushing his comeback way ahead of time, possibly derailing the return that everybody is anticipating him having at the end of the season. None of the players have publicly spoken out about wanting to play with the assistants more than him either.
Why is he doing this exactly? What is the point of him being this person at this point? One would think that we’ve already met the main villains of the series which would of course be the Boston Celtics. We’ve met Red Auerbach, and Larry Bird and have established them to have personal gripes with the owner and star of this team. Why make this choice when there are only two episodes left of the season? I do believe that this show will have a deeper explanation of McKinney’s actions, but I got to admit this is a very unwelcome heel turn. No matter how good Tracy Letts is at portraying it.
This is an episode that made sure to try and make the identities of these lesser players a lot more known, all the while going out of its way to tear down the legendary figures. It’s an interesting way to wind down the season. But I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good way. We’ll see.