‘Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers’ assessment: Hulu’s 10-part docuseries performs an excessive amount of like a licensed product


If 2020 basketball nostalgia belonged to the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers have owned 2022 with HBO’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” “They Call Me Magic” and now “Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers,” a 10-part docuseries premiering on Hulu. But regardless of the chance to set the document straight, this exhaustive manufacturing places an excessive amount of emphasis on bench gamers – or actually, the entrance workplace – on the expense of its all-stars.

Not solely does Lakers CEO Jeanie Buss function an govt producer of “Legacy,” however all the youngsters of late proprietor Jerry Buss sit for interviews, together with an intensive roster of the workforce’s former gamers, coaches and high-profile opponents.

Even so, director Antoine Fuqua (whose documentary credit embody the sports-related “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali”) has tipped the scales too closely towards Jerry Buss and his dedication to show the NBA’s showiest franchise right into a household enterprise. The result’s a sequence peppered with highlights however that performs like an excessive amount of of a licensed product, encumbered with Buss household reminiscing.

In some respects, the entire train comes throughout as an prolonged response to “Winning Time,” searching for to reclaim the workforce’s narrative after that present’s exaggerated portrait of key Lakers gamers and personnel, which too typically bordered on parody.

Jerry West, for instance, who publicly criticized the HBO present, will get to calmly and overtly talk about how demanding he was as a coach, saying of the gamers, “I felt sorry for them having to play for me,” whereas others have fun his sensible eye for figuring out expertise in his govt capability.

Fuqua additionally contextualizes “Legacy” within the broader sociological context of Los Angeles, a metropolis of various communities pulled collectively by its collective love of the Lakers and Dodgers – not less than, when the groups are profitable. From that perspective, the sequence has an excellent deal in widespread with final 12 months’s ESPN documentary “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” dedicated to the Mets and their relationship with New York.

Nonetheless, a manufacturing already enamored with personalities at occasions races by means of the precise basketball, to the purpose the place when you blink twice through the portion dedicated to the ’80s groups, you may miss one other championship.

What’s left, then, are the bits and items: How Buss turned the Discussion board, the place the Lakers performed, into the most well liked night time spot in a city of stars; the Lakers Women and different improvements that fellow homeowners rushed to repeat, comparable to Buss jacking up the value of flooring seats from $10.50 to $65; and Magic Johnson’s unprecedented 25-year contract, prompting teammate Jamaal Wilkes and the remainder of the squad to ask of Johnson’s shut ties to the proprietor, “Is he one of us, or one of them?”

“Legacy” shoots a a lot greater share when the topic turns to basketball, with Julius Erving, a.ok.a. Dr. J, praising Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as “the greatest of all time,” and Celtics star Larry Chicken expressing an analogous sense of awe, saying he had hoped his brother noticed him standing on the court docket close to the Lakers huge man.

Six of the ten episodes have been made obtainable, sufficient to get by means of the Lakers’ down years after Abdul-Jabbar retired and Johnson’s HIV analysis, and into the signing of Shaquille O’Neal and drafting of stripling sensation Kobe Bryant, triggering a title-winning resurgence.

Even then, there’s as a lot curiosity, seemingly, in coach Phil Jackson’s private relationship with Jeanie Buss. Nor may the filmmakers resist including the compulsory Hollywood pizzazz to the proceedings, with movie star Lakers followers Rob Lowe, Flea and Snoop Dogg among the many voices receiving ample display screen time.

For the Lakers trustworthy, or frankly anybody within the NBA’s surge from the Magic-Chicken matchups by means of at present, there’s nonetheless rather a lot to love right here. However “Legacy” in the end proves too dedicated to the Buss household’s portion of this sprawling story.

In that sense, the query Wilkes posed concerning Johnson echoes in a barely totally different manner for viewers – specifically, is that this being made for us, or is it being made for them?

“Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers” premieres Aug. 15 on Hulu.