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Larry Bird And Boston Get The "Winning Time" Treatment For The First Of Many Times

I've been so wrapped up in "Winning Time" week-to-week, I hadn't even given a thought to the fact that #33 would eventually be making an appearance. And he made his debut in the seventh episode on Sunday. 

While hospitalized after his bike accident and the team out of sorts, head coach Jack McKinney convinces owner Jerry Buss to let interim coach Paul Westhead hang onto the reins through at least the Boston stop on the team's upcoming road trip. He describes Boston Garden as "a beast".

Our first glimpse of Larry Bird comes via Magic Johnson's imagination while he's watching the Celtic on TV. "I'm gonna torch that smiley ass in Boston, punk", Bird 'says' to his once and future rival. Then while leaving Market Square Arena in Indianapolis a blonde yells, "Hey Magic Man, sign these" as she rips open her flannel shirt to show Johnson her pale titties with 'Larry' and 'Bird' written above each flapjack, "Larry's gonna each your lunch!". 


While gathered at Magic's childhood pad for a home-cooked meal, his teammates are telling stories about Boston, Bill Russell, the Garden, and its 'Leprechaun' to let unfamiliar viewers know that visiting the Boston Garden is a whole different animal. New assistant Pat Riley is also warning Westhead about the barn. "You're not just playing the guys on the floor. You're playing the arena. Playing the whole goddamn city."

So by the time Magic and the Lakers hit our fair burg, people watching the show know that it's a big fucking deal. We're treated to old news clips of the St. Patrick's Day Parade that gave at least one kid some bragging rights...

Future yuppie hater.

Then we see the Lakers leaving Logan Airport and fans are giving it to them. Yes, there was a time when you could greet arriving flights full of pro athletes at the airport so you could say, "Have a nice day, go fuck yourself," to them. And Jerry West uttering, "Paul Revere shoulda slept in. Let the British burn this fuckhole to the ground," is hilarious because he's still bitter about the Celtics owning his ass (he won't even enter the Garden to watch the game). I particularly loved the old, real footage of the Garden and North Station when it looked borderline dystopian. But really liked seeing this...

I think it's where The Harp is now but don't quote me.

As the Lakers arrive, they see a rat scurry across the floor as the Leprechaun's cackling laughter plays in the background. Then finally, with 15 minutes left in the episode, we see the Legend in the flesh. And he's spitting his lipper into a vintage Bud can. 


"I'm gonna rip your fucking ass a new hole," Bird says to Magic as he covers the mic towards the end up their dual presser where the Celtic grumpily replies to media queries.

Magic then has a locker room heart-to-heart with Kareem about the media's treatment of him and Bird. Interestingly, he never mentions the racial component even if it's implied. During the pre-game coach session, Bird's attributes as a player are debated by a few of the Lakers. Then it's game time.

I love how the ep shows the dichotomy between the team's radio announcers, Chick Hearn and Johnny Most. Like pretty much all home team announcers, they're homers. So we hear each's slanted take on the game and it's quite hilarious. While Most's vernacular was spot-on, the voice didn't have his hard edge. But the profane Garden crowd was hilarious: "Hey fuck you" and "Suck my dick, Magic" is probably exactly what those guys heard.

But then we get to the game play and "Winning Time" utilizes Larry's signature bit of describing exactly what he is about to do right to his opponent's face then doing it right in his face. Even if the show took creative liberties with the schedule and game, it still conveyed the importance of Larry vs. Magic, the rivalry that would rejuvenate a moribund league. Bird hits a few more shots and talks a little more shit. But the Lakers leave with the victory and their struggling temporary coach hangs on for a little longer. And we likely won't see the surly hick from French Lick again until Season 2. Still, his brief debut was memorable.

A few more buds for your bowl...

*After telling Magic there were gonna be a lot of groupies on this trip, Riley tells him "You just wanna wrap it up, know what I'm saying?". Dudes imploring each other to wear rubbers in pre-AIDS 1979-80? Ehhh.

*Chick Hearn is so shitty to Riley that I can't wait til Riley gets the head gig to see how Hearn does a 180. Chick also likes the sauce per the show.  

*Those foreshadowing clips with Riley pushing his hair back are cheesy as hell but I still dig them.

*Loved seeing the TV-38 and Boston Bruins Pro Shop signs in the CGI Garden.

*This clip of Red Auerbach looking up at Buss in his shitty seats is another creative flourish (Buss looks to be in the last row of stadium section seats). How about young Jan Volk sitting next to him?


*"Mistah Ahhbaach can't make it up to see youse guys. He sent you this with his's a vegetable, like yaw coach. Welcome to the Gaaaaahden." Between the accent and the gift (whether accurate or not), this scene was all kinds of cringe.

*People who weren't around for Larry Bird but say "Larry Bird was overrated" are straight-up fucking morons.