Jack McKinney’s bike accident didn’t happen as Winning Time suggests

LA Lakers head coach Jack McKinney was involved in a bike accident in episode five of Winning Time but it did not quite happen as the show suggests.

Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers dynasty is now half-way through its allocation of 10 episodes, with episode five airing on April 3rd, 2022.

The likes of Jerry Buss, Jerry West and Magic Johnson are central to the plot, as owner, coach and star player as the Lakers looked to build themselves up into the all-conquering outfit it would become.

An important step in the formation of the Lakers dynasty was the appointment of Jack McKinney as head coach after West opted to step down.

However, a bike accident prematurely ended Jack McKinney’s tenure as Lakers head coach, months into his reign.

Despite a depiction of it in episode five of Winning Time, Jack McKinney’s (far right) bike accident did not quite actually happen as the show suggests.

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Photo by Mark Junge/Getty Images

Jack McKinney bike accident

After stints as an assistant coach, McKinney was given his break as a head coach by Buss – who wanted a more attacking, free-flowing style of basketball for his new team.

He turned to the Portland Trail Blazers assistant, with McKinney set to take control for the 1979-80 season.

Things started well for his Lakers side, going 9-4 from the first 13 games.

On November 8th, 1979, things changed when Jack McKinney was involved in a bike accident.

Playoffs on NBA Lane | Official Trailer



Playoffs on NBA Lane | Official Trailer






Cycling to meet assistant Paul Westhead for a game of Tennis, McKinney’s bike locked gears, and he was thrown over the handlebars into the road, hitting the solid concrete hard.

He suffered brain injuries – and was replaced on an interim basis by Westhead.

In the show, it depicts McKinney narrowly missing a reversing car, which leads to the accident.

In fact, approaching a stop sign is when the gears locked and McKinney suffered his injuries.

What happened next?

Westhead (below) led the Lakers to the 1980 championship in McKinney’s absence, and was appointed head coach in May of that year.

After leaving the Lakers, McKinney was able to find another head coach job in the NBA, heading to the Indiana Pacers.

He won Coach of the Year in 1981, but was fired in 1984 after poor results.

McKinney would later resign from the Kansas City Kings in November 1984 after a poor start to the season.

Jack McKinney died on September 25th, 2018 in Florida, with his daughter Susan confirming the cause was due to complications of the brain injury he had suffered in 1979.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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