‘Winning Time’: Magic Johnson Reportedly Got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a Hot Dog Every Morning, Not Orange Juice
During HBO’s dramatic miniseries, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, then-rookie Magic Johnson fetched team captain Kareem Abdul-Jabbar orange juice and the newspaper every morning, hoping to earn his friendship. However, sportswriter Jackie MacMullan recently claimed Johnson actually brought Abdul-Jabbar a hot dog.
Magic Johnson gets Kareem Abdul-Jabbar orange juice and the paper in ‘Winning Time’
In HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) is portrayed as a huge people pleaser who wants his new teammate and legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes), to like him.
During training camp, the then-rookie brought the team captain a glass of orange juice, made a specific way, and a newspaper every morning, hoping to better their friendship. In the 2014 book Showtime by Jeff Pearlman, which the HBO show is based on, the sportswriter claimed Lakers veterans must “adopt” a rookie during training camp.
He claimed “cap” tasked Magic with bringing him orange juice and the day’s edition of the New York Times. Even though the rookie faithfully fulfilled his team leader’s requests and had an instant connection while playing together, a 1987 piece in the Los Angeles Times reports that the two reportedly didn’t form an off-court friendship for around five years.
Johnson himself admitted to the paper that he found it difficult to “get through to Kareem.” Abdul-Jabaar claimed it “took a while” for them to become friends but maintained they didn’t have a problem with each other.
Sportswriter Jackie MacMullan said Johnson brought Abdul-Jabbar a hot dog, not orange juice
On the other hand, sportswriter Jackie MacMullan, who co-wrote When the Game Was Ours (2009) with Johnson and Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird, claimed the then-rookie desperately wanted to get on Abdul-Jabbar’s good side as he was an established veteran.
In an April 2022 interview with The Ringer NBA Show, she reported that he tried so hard to gain the captain’s respect that he would bring him a hot dog and the newspaper paper throughout his entire rookie campaign.
The extreme differences between the two players are highlighted during Winning Time as Johnson is portrayed as a big personality who wants the spotlight on him.
On the other hand, Abdul-Jabbar hated interviews, was disconnected from the fans and seemed more interested in politics and his religion at the time. Even so, the pair created a force on the court, ultimately shining in a “showtime” offense that put the Lakers on the map.
‘Winning Time’ cast includes John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss
Chicago star John C. Reilly leads the Winning Time cast as Lakers owner Jerry Buss and stars Quincy Isaiah as basketball star Magic Johnson, Jason Clarke as former Lakers coach and eventual general manager Jerry West, DeVaughn Nixon as point guard Norm Nixon, Solomon Hughes as MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tamera Tomakili as Magic’s girlfriend, Cookie Keely, Gaby Hoffmann as president of Forum Claire Rothman, and Hadley Robinson as the owner’s daughter, Jeanie Buss, and Adrien Brody as coach Pat Riley.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty airs Sundays at 9/8 on HBO.