EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Filmmaker Antoine Fuqua’s connections to the Los Angeles Lakers are by way of his hometown of Pittsburgh. Norm Nixon performed faculty basketball at Duquesne University earlier than changing into a first-round choose of the Lakers in 1977, and Fuqua was a fan of his play at level guard.

But doesn’t each fan have a narrative of loyalty to a favourite workforce?

That doesn’t make Fuqua distinctive, however he was charged with directing a mission on the Lakers and creating one thing distinctive, which isn’t straightforward given the proliferation of Laker-related content material on and off the court docket simply in 2022.

“The goal was to really keep the focus on the family,” Fuqua mentioned.

That meant a heavy emphasis on the late Dr. Jerry Buss and his youngsters in “Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers,” a 10-part docuseries that premieres Monday on Hulu.

Buss, who died in February 2013, earned the repute as maybe the most effective workforce proprietor in modern-day sports activities. Long earlier than the likes of Mark Cuban have been seen as blurring the road between possession and gamers, Buss was befriending a younger Magic Johnson, which didn’t go over nicely for some accustomed to a special participant/workforce proprietor dynamic.

It’s a repute his youngsters have needed to stay as much as within the 9 years since his loss of life. The Lakers gained the 2020 NBA championship however have additionally missed the playoffs seven occasions within the final 9 years.

Before the 2013-14 season, the Lakers had solely missed the postseason 5 occasions since their begin in Minneapolis in 1948.

The Lakers gained a title in 1980, Buss’ first 12 months of possession, beginning the “Showtime” period and the primary of 10 championships in his lifetime and 11 total for the Buss household. The story of Buss and his six youngsters is probably the most intriguing a part of Lakers lore — not simply Buss’ youngsters, who all participated within the collection, but in addition the household setting fostered between him and gamers over time. There’s additionally the ability dynamic between siblings and the way that impacts how the Lakers could be run.

Jim Buss had his flip being in cost, and the Lakers struggled. Jeanie Buss, now workforce president and controlling proprietor, turned the primary girl within the NBA to be the proprietor of a championship workforce in 2020. Who is in cost, how they turned in cost and the tales of the siblings attempting to determine the place they slot in sports activities — or in the event that they even wished to be in sports activities — are layers to the story informed.

“Obviously, the family drama that happened in the process of success, that was important, as well,” Fuqua mentioned. “But the most important thing to me was the family aspect of it. That’s the part I don’t believe I’ve ever seen from the mouths of the family.”

“Legacy” options the Buss youngsters, which makes it totally different from Johnson’s documentary, “They Call Me Magic” from Apple TV+, or HBO’s dramatized “Winning Time,” which didn’t have the Lakers’ participation and raised well-chronicled disagreements from the folks portrayed within the collection.

“Everybody that we asked to participate agreed to be interviewed, and everybody gives the experience that they had because the fans know about what took place on the court,” Jeanie mentioned. “But they don’t know what happened behind the scenes, and that’s what we wanted to show is what goes on after the game and the effect that winning has on people, on a family.”

Learning extra concerning the household provides to what makes the Lakers probably the greatest dramas in sports activities. This installment in Laker content material providing a glance into how the Buss siblings tried to determine the place they match within the hierarchy offers the franchise an opportunity to take management of the tales which have been out, whether or not by way of conventional media or movies.

“This does feel like the Lakers trying to take ownership of their own Hollywood legacy,” Rotten Tomatoes contributing editor Mark Ellis mentioned. “I think that’s why we keep coming back to the Lakers as great subject matter, because they are based in Hollywood and this is a town where we love telling stories that have flash, that have flair.”

Getting to the basis of the Buss household story is central to the Hollywood story.

Dr. Buss was a chemist who discovered success in actual property earlier than buying the Lakers. Several issues labored in his favor for early success. The Lakers already had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and fellow future Hall of Famer Jamaal Wilkes. There was Nixon, who would go on to grow to be a two-time All-Star, and the Lakers gained the coin flip that allowed them to draft Johnson.

But the Lakers weren’t the one proficient workforce within the league. Buss introduced pizzazz to the franchise and adjusted the best way sports activities could be considered by the general public. He injected sizzle right into a league in determined want of one thing to seize the general public’s consideration.

“He was the first guy to integrate entertainment, sports, sex, bachelor owner,” Nixon mentioned. “The first 12 months, he purchased the workforce with our fashion of play, after which we gained the championship. So you’re in Los Angeles, all the largest stars, all people’s on the sport.

“People watched the game on Sunday afternoon just to see who’s coming in on the red carpet. When you combine his philosophy with the Laker girls, and then we end up being a very good team with that style of play, I think that created the hype.”

Along with the hype, there was the household method established. It’s one thing Fuqua appeared to share with “Legacy.” The course of confirmed Jeanie how deep that was when she heard the tales of gamers who had been traded however returned to the group in some capability.

“How the players became family, how did that relationship begin and how Dr. Buss, really on a handshake at times, made agreements with these guys and kept his word to them,” Fuqua mentioned. “Players that got traded came back to work for the organization, things like that.”

Abdul-Jabbar performed at UCLA however started his NBA profession with Milwaukee. His admiration for a way Dr. Buss handled him throughout his tenure stays.

“He always spoke of me with appreciation and paying me what I was worth,” Abdul-Jabbar mentioned. “I always appreciated that.”

That’s why past the pressures LeBron James and Anthony Davis should preserve the Lakers contenders, there’s scrutiny and strain on the Buss household, which makes their inclusion within the collection most intriguing.

Dr. Buss was a millionaire who managed to not lose contact together with his fan base. He had a eager sense for what Los Angeles followers wanted. “Legacy” is a peek into how his youngsters have navigated life chasing the usual their father set in making the Lakers a unifying power in southern California.

“Everybody talks about the seats on the floor and the celebrities and the high prices, but he always made sure he had seats that were the same as what it would cost to go see a movie so that families could come,” Jeanie mentioned.” It was very inclusive; he wished everybody to be a Laker fan, regardless of the place you got here from.”

The Buss clan makes revisiting the Lakers once more worthwhile.

“I think that’s a story that is worth telling time and time again,” Ellis mentioned. “Even though, like a lot of folks, I’m getting sick of seeing that uniform.”

But the Lakers are Hollywood. So Ellis and the remainder of us know this won’t be the final time we see Laker uniforms featured in some kind.

It’s simply how Dr. Buss would have envisioned it.

(Photo of Jeanie Buss: Harry How / Getty Images)

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