HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty returns with a jam-packed season 2 full of popular music from the early 1980s. The bustling soundtrack consists of classic hits and funky deep cuts that span multiple genres and decades and contribute to the fun-loving quintessential LA themes of the celebrated HBO series.
While rooted in fact-based sports history, Winning Time’s compelling story is elevated by groovy song choices that significantly authenticate the show’s classic tone and appeal.
Winning Time retains its season 1 theme song, “My Favorite Mutiny” by The Coup, kicking off season 2 in a familiar fashion. Similarly to Winning Time season 1, season 2 combines a sensational soundtrack with an excellent instrumental score that picks up during some of the more dramatic moments of the series. Here is every song in Winning Time: The Rise of The Lakers Dynasty season 2 and exactly when it plays.
Winning Time Season 2, Episode 1 “One Ring Don’t Make A Dynasty”
“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & The Revolution: The iconic Prince song blasts right after the Lakers triumphantly beat the Boston Celtics in the opening game of the 1984 NBA Finals on the Celtics’ home court. In the first scene of season 2, the team runs straight from the court to their bus, energized by Prince’s pumped-up anthem.
As the Lakers revel in stealing home-court advantage, the lyrics “Let’s go crazy, let’s get nuts” capture the thrill and momentum of their game-one victory over their rivals. The song choice immediately sets the tone for the new season – the Lakers are kicking off another championship run.
“Magic” by Olivia Newton-John: This upbeat 1980 pop song originally from the film Xanadu plays Magic Johnson and is featured in commercials and billboards all over Los Angeles at the height of his fame. Fresh off an NBA championship and MVP award, the lyrics highlight the intoxicating spoils of Johnson’s success and newfound celebrity status.
As the peppy song declares, “You’re magic, and I’ve got to have more of your magic,” it sums up the public’s infatuation with the magnetic young star. The song captures this moment when Johnson became a supernova.
“Volare” by Bobby Rydell: This breezy 1960s pop hit plays during a conversation in New York between Jerry Buss and Red Auerbach after the 1980 NBA draft. As Auerbach tells Buss about the Celtics’ trade to acquire Parish and McHale, the Italian lyrics of “Volare” (“to fly”) seem to foreshadow the impending stardom of Larry Bird.
The song’s lighthearted optimism contrasts with the ominous news Auerbach delivers about the reinforcements coming to revive the Celtics. The song choice underscores how the Celtic dynasty is priming to retake flight, presenting a formidable foe for Buss’ Lakers.
“Girls On Film” by Duran Duran: The provocative 1981 hit by Duran Duran blasts as Lakers head coach Paul Westhead and assistant Pat Riley strategize poolside at Jerry Buss’ ritzy Ocotillo Lounge in Palm Springs. As scantily clad women surround the coaches at the desert oasis, the racy lyrics of “Girls On Film” match the indulgent scene.
With the team temporarily training nearby, the song choice highlights the glamour and excess that defined the Showtime Lakers era. The meeting’s stylish backdrop is accentuated by the pulsating sounds of Duran Duran’s bold ode to voyeurism and hedonism.
“Keeper of the Castle” by Four Tops: The emotional 1972 hit plays during a scene where Cookie imagines a conversation with Magic back home in Michigan. The romantic lyrics (“Be a good man to your lady”) highlight Magic’s failure to be loyal to Cookie from afar.
Though Magic appears as a voice in Cookie’s mind, the song’s cautionary tone underscores his disregard for their relationship. The choice of “Keeper of the Castle” adds a poignant subtext about Magic not treasuring what he has, aptly captured when Cookie sings along wizardly, “You should’ve been home a long time ago.”
“Dear Mr. Fantasy” by Traffic: This 1967 classic rock song appears in Winning Time season 2 after Jerry Buss explains to Jerry West why he’s willing to spend unprecedented money to acquire new talent for the Lakers. West can’t understand Buss’s confidence and willingness to throw around hundreds of thousands, which alludes to Buss’s fantastical ideas that seem unrealistic to pragmatists.
“Best of My Love” by The Emotions: The buoyant 1977 hit soars over a montage showcasing the “Showtime” Lakers’ electric early season success in their 1981 title defense. As the team highlights roll, The Emotions’ joyful chorus perfectly encapsulates the Lakers’ sensational style of play. Thanks to their fast breaks and dazzling teamwork, the upbeat track foreshadows another potential championship run. As the team clicks on all cylinders, “Best of My Love” captures their chemistry peaking again.
“I Feel Love” by Donne Summer: Just halfway through Winning Time season 2, episode 1, Donna Summer’s instantly recognizable 1976 dance hit plays over an extended montage highlighting the cultural infatuation with Magic Johnson. The montage is brought to an abrupt halt when Magic injures his knee during a regular season game in November 1980, turning his world and the Lakers’ momentum upside down in a tragic instant.
“Feel Good” by Fancy: This modern rock song with a retro sound plays during a scene where Magic is intimate with a woman while the Lakers lose badly on TV. As the defeat unfolds, the lyrics “Feel good, feel fine” add an ironic counterpoint as Magic recognizes he’s regarded differently when injured. Though released in 2001, the track’s old-school vibe fits the early 80s setting. Its inclusion as Magic’s status shifts underscores how fleeting fame and performance can be.
“Wobble on Back” by The Cymbals: The upbeat 1960s instrumental plays during a lighthearted Buss family game night as Jerry and his kids enjoy Monopoly. But the cheerful track is cut short when Jerry makes an abrupt, drunk speech about business to his sons, disrupting the fun. The abrupt tonal shift from the happy groove of “Wobble on Back” to Jerry’s tense lecture underscores how he ruined the relaxed family bonding. The music heightens the whiplash between leisure and severity.
“Time For Livin'” by Sly & The Family Stone: The uplifting soul track underscores a tender scene where Magic meets his newborn son Andre for the first time. Surrounded by family at the hospital, the joyful song highlights Magic’s new responsibilities as a father despite his fame and success on the court.
As Sly Stone’s positive lyrics play (“time for living, time for giving”), they aptly accent Magic’s emotional introduction to parenthood amidst the heights of his NBA stardom. The song reminds us that his duties off-court are what matter most.
“You’re the One for Me” by D Train: The upbeat, funky pop song by D Train plays during a feel-good moment at the end of episode 1, season 2 of the show Winning Time. After being sidelined with an injury, Magic Johnson finally gets his cast removed and can rejoin the Lakers. Despite his absence, the team had pulled off some big wins using Coach Paul Westhead’s new fast-paced offensive system.
As Magic happily walks out of the hospital cast-free, D Train’s cheerful hit underscores his joy and optimism about rejoining his teammates. The song’s upbeat sound captures the excitement of Magic’s return and the newfound success the Lakers have found.
“She’s My Lady (and She’s Lovely)” by The Grooving Company: Following the Lakers’ unlikely success without Magic, thanks to Paul Westhead’s System, Buss and the team can breathe easier after an impressive winning streak. This funk song sounds like something out of the late ’70s, but it was released in 2019.
Winning Time Season 2, Episode 2, “The Magic Is Back”
“Urgent” by Foreigner: The rock anthem “Urgent” by Foreigner blasts during a pivotal scene in episode 2 of Winning Time’s second season. It plays in the background as Magic Johnson has his first intense solo workout with assistant coach Pat Riley since returning from a knee injury. Magic is struggling to find his groove and is frustrated with no longer being the undisputed star player on the Lakers.
Sensing his unease, Riley pushes him to stop overthinking and focus on the urgent need to regain his superstar form. Foreigner’s high-energy song pumps Magic up, underscoring his renewed determination to dominate the court again. The 1981 hit marks a turning point for Magic, capturing his reinvigorated mindset to recapture his glory days during the 1980-81 NBA season.
“Lady (You Bring Me Up)” by The Commodores: The Commodores’ smooth R&B hit sets the tone in a nostalgic scene in episode 2 of Winning Time’s second season. The upbeat, funky song plays as Jerry Buss approaches his former flame Honey, whom he hasn’t seen in over 15 years. Jerry is thrilled to reconnect with the woman he once glorified in his mind, with the song reflecting his romantic optimism.
As he and Honey flirt, the song fades into the background, underscoring the dreamlike quality of their long-awaited reunion. With its cheerful vibe and lyrics about a woman lifting a man, “Lady” aligns with Jerry’s excitement and hope that the connection they once shared remains despite the time apart. The 1981 Commodores classic aptly underscores this sentimental moment between former lovers reuniting.
“Rocking” by Brief Encounter: This 1981 disco song by Brief Encounter is featured after the Lakers’ Game 2 victory against the Houston Rockets during the first round of the 1981 NBA Playoffs. The song starts playing after the divided and tense Lakers team finally finds common ground during the series and continues into the private jet on the team’s flight home to Los Angeles.
The song provides a celebratory atmosphere that would end up being a brief encounter before things heat up between Coach Paul Westhead and Pat Riley.
“In the Middle of Love” by HP Riot: The upbeat 1973 funk track HP Riot takes on an ironic tone in a tense scene late in episode 2 of Winning Time’s second season. The feel-good song incongruously plays as Coach Westhead learns of assistant coach Pat Riley’s suspected betrayal.
Its lyrics about mixed signals and deception in romance foreshadow the professional backstabbing Westhead is about to accuse Riley of.
When Westhead confronts Riley on the plane, the cheerful song continues, now sounding detached from the confrontation unfolding. As Westhead feels misled and confused by Riley’s actions behind his back, the song’s message of relationship turmoil brings new meaning to their fraying professional dynamic.
The ironic use of this 70s funk classic underscores the multilayered deception unfolding between the coaching staff.
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye: This 1970 classic by Marvin Gaye is perfectly utilized at the end of Winning Time season 2, episode 2, to highlight the rumors and deceptions that tore the 1980–81 Lakers apart.
A central theme of the episode is second-hand sources and conflicting information behind the scenes of the Lakers’ locker room and front office. The closing song choice is spot on thematically and sonically, seamlessly blending into the soulful soundtrack of Winning Time season 2.
Winning Time Season 2, Episode 3 “The Second Coming”
“No Man’s Land” by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band: The laidback rock track by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band perfectly sets the scene in episode 3 of Winning Time’s second season. As basketball star Larry Bird cruises through his tiny hometown of French Lick, Indiana, Seger’s mellow 1980 hit plays evoke the rural “no man’s land” Bird hails from. With only around 2,000 residents, French Lick is a far cry from the big cities and fame Bird has experienced since leaving.
As acoustic guitar and harmonica riffs echo Seger’s country influences, the song underscores Bird’s nostalgia for the backroads of his youth while visiting family. With its peaceful vibe and lyrics about solitude, “No Man’s Land” aligns with Bird’s ambivalence about his small-town origins as he returns home as a superstar.
“Double Dutch Bus” by Frankie Smith: This popular 1981 funk song also plays at the beginning of the episode following Larry Bird’s first flashback after he told his father he dropped out of Indiana University. This upbeat track provides the background music during the Lakers’ offseason when Magic Johnson and a few teammates lead a summer basketball camp for kids.
The soul song features spoken word vocals from kids, which fits the context of the summer camp and outspoken children in the scene.
“Get On Down” by Rokotto: The upbeat funk track “Get On Down” by Rokotto sets an optimistic tone that is soon undercut in episode 3 of Winning Time’s second season. When Jeanie Buss arrives home excited for family game night, the lively 1977 dance song evokes a fun vibe. But the mood shifts when Jeanie sees her father, Jerry’s girlfriend Honey, in her usual spot at the table.
As Jeanie and Honey reunite awkwardly, the bubbly song continues, now contrasting the tension Jeanie feels at being replaced by her dad’s flame. When Jerry brushes off Jeanie’s attempt to discuss business, the once cheerful song underscores her sense of rejection. The funky tune’s energy initially highlighted the promise of bonding before Jeanie’s hopes were dashed, intensifying the sting.
“Stumblin’ In” by Chris Norman & Suzi Quatro: This notable pop 1980 song is featured in Winning Time season 2, episode 3 as Jerry Buss and Honey’s favorite love song. Jerry surprises Honey with an extravagant display of red roses to portray how much he has fallen for her again.
Jerry tries to keep his dream of rekindling his flame with Honey, playing this vinyl record as he serenades and dances with his love interest. Honey gives in to Jerry’s charming efforts and the two dance to the sweet romance song.
“Hello There (Live)” by Cheap Trick: The high-energy live version of “Hello There” by Cheap Trick rocks in the background during a standout scene in episode 3 of Winning Time’s second season. As basketball phenomenon Larry Bird arrives unannounced at an Indiana State practice in jeans, he dazzles the coaches and players by effortlessly sinking shot after shot.
Cheap Trick’s 1977 rock anthem accentuates the buzz and excitement as Bird takes over the court, giving the team a taste of his extraordinary skill that will soon lead them to the NCAA finals.
With its pumped-up sound, the song perfectly captures the electricity of Bird’s impromptu tryout, where his raw talent alone leaves a memorable first impression despite his casual attire. The defiant rock track aligns with Bird’s confidence as he crashes the practice and proves he’s a superstar in the making.
“Got That Feeling” by Harry Krapsho: This funk/soul song appears when Larry Bird plays pickup basketball in his hometown of French Lick, Indiana. The Harry Krapsho track projects Larry’s confidence and self-assuredness through his impeccable skill on the basketball court. Even while playing for fun on a small court on a summer day, Larry’s pure shooting shows that he’s certainly got a special feeling from his love of the game, which Indiana State coach Bill Hodges notices and watches in admiration from his car.
“Love Is All We Need” by Mike James Kirkland: The soulful 1973 track gently plays during a moment between Magic Johnson and Jerry Buss in episode 3. As they casually chat over McDonald’s, the uplifting song underscores their discussion of Magic’s potential 25-year, $25 million Lakers contract extension. When Jerry asks for discretion and Magic’s total commitment, the song’s message about love’s importance resonates. Jerry affirms he sees Magic as family, fitting the sentimental music playing as they bond over Magic’s long-term future with the franchise.
Winning Time Season 2, Episode 4 “The New World”
“Working In A Coalmine” by Devo: The upbeat 1981 cover of “Working in a Coal Mine” by Devo kicks off episode 4 of Winning Time’s second season on a deceivingly optimistic note. As the song’s punchy synth rhythms play, Coach Westhead unveils a team photo, suggesting a fresh start to the ’81-’82 preseason.
However, Devo’s lively rendition soon rings hollow as tensions persists between Westhead and the Lakers stars. Its energetic beat implies coming together but is undermined as conflicts continue unfolding. The ironic use of this classic track foreshadows that the friction within the organization is far from resolved despite the cheeriness of the team photo op. The song’s vibrancy provides a counterpoint underscoring the ongoing dysfunction beneath the surface.
“Flat Foot Sam” by T. V. Slim & His Heartbreakers: This classic from 1957 plays while Jeanie and Honey converse one morning in Jerry’s kitchen. Jeanie hasn’t been very welcoming of Honey’s presence or interest in her father during Winning Time season 2, so it is not taken to heart when she is offered some advice about reconciling with Johnnie. The song plays in the background of the brief back-and-forth exchange as Jeanie walks to work.
“King’s Special” by B.B. King: This soulful 1970 guitar track by the legendary B.B. King plays while the Nets demolish the Lakers in their second game of the 1981 season. It continues to play over a conversation that Magic has with Cookie over the phone about his dissatisfaction with Paul Westhead, who also talks to Kareem Abdul Jabbar about potentially getting fired in the montage. Nearly the entire 5-minute, 11-second track is played in the episode.
“How ‘Bout Us” by Champaign: Magic listens to this 1981 R&B pop song through his headphones after walking off the team bus after a game. Magic had caught Paul Westhead expressing to Pat Riley that he was tired of bending his will to appease Magic, who is largely disobedient and disapproving of Westhead’s offense. The slow-tempo song’s lyrics apply to the episode’s dynamic between Westhead and Magic, stating, “No sense in draggin’ on past our needs/Let’s don’t keep hanging it on.”
“Get a Job” by The Silhouettes: The ironic 1950s pop track “Get a Job” plays as Pat Riley confronts Coach Westhead with a neck brace in episode 4. Stressed about Westhead ignoring him, Riley meets to discuss their clashing philosophies. The song’s title foreshadows Westhead’s fate – soon to be fired, he’ll be the one needing a new job.
“Apache” by The Sugerhill Gang: The Sugarhill Gang’s iconic 1981 hip hop track “Apache” scores a scene of Coach Westhead celebrating cockily in episode 4 after a winning streak. The classic party anthem ironically plays as Westhead dances triumphantly, convinced his job is secure. But his bravado will soon fade when he’s fired.
Love Sensation” by Loleatta Holloway: Loleatta Holloway’s empowering 1980 R&B hit “Love Sensation” pulses during a celebration scene in episode 4. After beating Jack McKinney’s Pacers for their fourth straight win, the uplifting song plays as Jerry and Honey dance, signaling a turning point. But when Jerry impulsively proposes soon after, the song’s emotions underscore his rash decision fueled by the high of their winning streak.
Winning Time Season 2, Episode 5 “The Hamburger Hamlet”
“Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb: The mellow disco tune “Shadow Dancing” by pop singer Andy Gibb doesn’t appear until over halfway through Winning Time’s fifth episode of season two. Initially released in 1978, the song plays during a montage after 26 minutes as Magic Johnson faces backlash from Lakers fans.
They believe he was responsible for head coach Paul Westhead’s firing, even though Magic delivered a standout 20-point win against the Spurs. “Shadow Dancing” soundtracks scenes of Lakers supporters scorning Magic despite his electrifying performance.
“Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind & Fire: The infectiously upbeat disco hit “Let’s Groove” by legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire blasts around the 28-minute mark of Winning Time’s fifth season two episode. The song soundtracks a scene where Jerry Buss and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are roller-skating, a popular pastime in the early 80s.
Even Buss’ new fiancée Honey is there enjoying herself with a friend. But the fun vibe is interrupted when Kareem gets accurate with Buss, confronting him amidst the disco balls about granting preferential treatment to Magic Johnson regarding front office decisions. He also argues Magic’s massive $25 million contract will seem paltry in a few years.
“Grease” by Frankie Valli: The timeless 1978 rock hit “Grease” by Frankie Valli makes a fitting appearance in Winning Time as new Lakers head coach Pat Riley debuts his signature slicked-back hairdo. The song symbolizes Riley’s arrival as a coaching icon, greasing back his hair with the team’s transformation into a dominant force in the NBA. “Grease” poetically underscores Riley’s rise in the episode.
“Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon:
As the Lakers clinch a spot in the 1982 Finals in the episode’s climax, the uplifting 1980 rock anthem “Keep on Loving You” by REO Speedwagon plays. The song highlights Jerry Buss’ enduring dedication to the Lakers and Magic Johnson after their turbulent season start. It accompanies the episode’s ending montage of the team’s hatred toward the archrival Boston Celtics and their fans, a recurring motif in Winning Time’s second season.
About Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is an American sports drama television series created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht for HBO, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman.
The first season, comprising 10 episodes, chronicles the 1980s Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team (beginning in late 1979), featuring notable NBA stars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
It features an ensemble cast led by John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Jason Segel, Gaby Hoffmann, Rob Morgan, and Adrien Brody. The series premiered on March 6, 2022, with the pilot episode directed by Adam McKay. In April 2022, the series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on August 6, 2023.