HBO’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” gives basketball fans a dramatized look at the inner workings of the birth of the “Showtime” era of the Lakers.
The series also serves as a reminder that “Showtime” extended beyond the four lines on the floor, setting a precedent that other franchises would soon follow.
When Dr. Jerry Buss took over the Lakers franchise ahead of the 1979-80 season, Lakers home games at The Forum in Inglewood became an experience full of entertainment on — and off — the floor.
Among the biggest elements of the experience were the Laker Girls, LA’s dance team that entertained fans during breaks in the action.
In “Winning Time,” fans learn the origin of the dance team as well as one of its biggest stars, Paula Abdul.
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Origin of the Laker Girls
Ahead of Buss' first season as the franchise’s owner, he installed a number of new elements to enhance the game-day experience. The introduction of a first-of-its-kind dance team was one of the chief elements.
“I liked the college atmosphere,” Buss told Lakers.com ahead of his enshrinement to the Basketball Hall of Fame, “so I wanted live music and Laker Girls, who are not really cheerleaders, but entertainers for the fans to watch during timeouts.”
The introduction of the Laker Girls is depicted in Episode 5 of “Winning Time.”
Was Paula Abdul a Laker Girl?
Before she was a Grammy Award-winning artist or a judge on “American Idol,” Abdul’s beginnings came as a dancer.
She earned her big break as a member of the Laker Girls.
Abdul, who came from a traditional dance background, graduated from Los Angeles' Van Nuys High School in 1980.
According to the LA Times, Abdul earned a spot as a Laker Girl during her freshman year of college — the second year of the dance team’s existence — and became the team’s head choreographer within a year.
It was during her time as a Laker Girl that Abdul was discovered by The Jacksons, serving as a launchpad for her entertainment career.