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Winning Time Season 2 & Pat Riley’s Aesthetic Ascent

From shaggy-haired hooper to made man in Armani, the Hall of Fame coach came into his own through a shift in role — and in wardrobe. On the sideline and on-screen, Adrien Brody is set to showcase both.

On Sunday night, HBO’s Winning Time transitioned into its first offseason. Luckily for Los Angeles and fans far beyond, this batch of 10 episodes wasn’t a one-off — the popular series was renewed for a second season back in April.

The finale only went as far as the 1980 NBA Finals, opening the door for future plotlines surrounding what would come to be called the Showtime Lakers. The finale episode set up some obvious opportunities, foreshadowing a deeper dive into Magic vs. Larry, the journey of Jeanie Buss, and beef between the post and the point.

While it will be only so many months before new episodes air, there’s plenty of ripe subject matter that took place over 40 years ago. The 1980-81 Lakers famously fell to the hot Houston Rockets in a first-round upset — naturally, the Celtics won the chip that year — while Jerry Buss and the 1981-82 Lakers moved on from coach Paul Westhead in favor of promoting Pat Riley from within.

photo via HBO Max

Therein lies a potential breakout star of Season 2 (and perhaps even a season 3 as well).

“When you dig into the story of the Showtime Lakers, it’s really not done yet,” Winning Time costume designer Emma Potter told Boardroom. “It’s Pat’s story where he needs to finish the journey. He was one of the characters that I’m most intrigued by and I want to finish the story.”

This is good news for viewers — and a new challenge for the show’s celebrated wardrobe department.

While the 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers were occasionally troubled by the role of The Brodie on the court, fans of the franchise were enamored by the performance of Adrien Brody on TV. Portraying the beginnings of Pat Riley’s rise from retired role player to Hall of Fame leader, the series is a showcase for his arrival.

Both professionally and aesthetically.

“Pat Riley is going through this amazing character arc,” Potter says in regard to the first season. “To have these images of what you know he ends up looking like and who he ends up becoming? Helping him inch towards that has been a really unique journey with Adrien.”

Adrien Brody (left) Pat Riley with Jason Segel as Paul Westeadh on Winning Time (Photo via HBO Max)

Teased in scenes over the course of Season 1, the makeover makes sense operating with the broader storyline of the Lakers’ rise and subsequent brand evolution over the course of the 1980s. While Magic Johnson was the box office draw on the court, Pat Riley was the driving force on the sideline and in the locker room. The course of the ascent of his image showed a man who meant business behind closed doors, sharp enough to tackle tough questions in televised press conferences.

Pat Riley coaching the Lakers from the sidelines during the 1982 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs (Andy Hayt /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

Transitioning from shaggy-haired hooper to made man in Armani has the potential to prove a nuanced narrative in coming seasons. For now, in Season 1, Potter made sure to make Riley’s makeover a “slow journey” that was “never too jarring.”

Season 2, meanwhile, has the power to push the intensity of Pat Riley’s becoming through the suiting of Potter and the Oscar-winning Brody’s acting performance.

Not only is the interest apparent, but the references are also abundant as well. When researching Riley and his glow-up from unintended assistant to five-time NBA champion as a head coach, the shift in style is just as much evolution in demeanor.

“The aesthetics show the psyche of a character,” says Potter.

For the Showtime Lakers, the show goes on.

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