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What Happened To The Real Jack McKinney After Season 1 Of Winning Time

Just as Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) asks so eloquently in Season 1, Episode 4 of "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty," "Who the f*** Is Jack McKinney?," Tracy Letts knew very little about the Lakers coach he had been asked to play. "I certainly was familiar with the Showtime Lakers and I remember the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry very well," Letts told Variety. "But Jack McKinney I did not remember at all, if I ever knew who he was. It was only when they reached out to me to gauge my interest in doing the show that I learned who he was."

Viewers that have tuned into the Emmy-nominated series now know that McKinney was instrumental in changing the playing style of the Lakers. He knew what he wanted and how to get it out of his players, and implemented changes such as using a fast break offense. Thanks to its run-and-gun nature, opposing defenses had to struggle to keep up with the Lakers' offense, because after getting ball possession, they kept going full throttle across the court. This style would become known as Showtime.

But after a tragic bicycle accident left McKinney with a host of health and cognitive issues, he was replaced as head coach. As fans watch the HBO series and are reminded of the man whose offensive game plan made the Lakers into a winning team, many have also wondered what happened to McKinney after the events shown in Season 1.

McKinney coached for two more NBA teams before retiring

After coming out of a three-day coma and slowly recovering from his bicycle accident, Jack McKinney became the head coach for the Indiana Pacers in 1980. He received the NBA Coach of the Year his first year with the Pacers, having led them to their first winning season since joining the league from the rival ABA in 1976. However, he was fired in 1984 after the Pacers ended the season with the league's worst record. He then joined the Kansas City (now Sacramento) Kings but resigned after nine games, of which the team had lost all but one. Many players said that he forgot things easily, and his wife, Claire "Cranny" McKinney, thought the lingering cognitive effects of his head injury had made coaching too difficult. "He came home one day and said, "I'm going to retire, but don't tell anyone," she told The New York Times.

After retiring from coaching, McKinney hosted coaching clinics and was a television analyst for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1992 (via Indy Star). Fans are thrilled that "Winning Time” is finally reminding fans of McKinney's huge contribution to the early Showtime Lakers. Still, many people still have "what if" questions related to the one-time coach, who died in 2018 at the age of 83 due to complications from the brain injury he suffered in the bike accident.

What could have been for McKinney if he hadn't crashed his bike? The man who coached the Lakers to most of their championships in the 1980s once shared his thoughts on the matter. "If he hadn't had the accident, he might have won five or six titles for the Lakers in the '80s," Pat Riley told the Los Angeles Times in 2006.