HBO Stands by Winning Time After Criticism From Jerry West and Lakers Legends

Posted 2022/04/27 8 0

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Jerry West and multiple legendary Lakers have condemned Winning Time, but HBO says the series is ‘based on extensive factual research.’

HBO doesn’t see anything wrong with how Jerry West or anyone else is portrayed in the new series Winning Time. Created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, the series is based on the original book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman. Among its cast is Jason Clarke as former coach and general manager Jerry West, who took exception to his portrayal in the series.

While the series does come with a disclaimer at the beginning that informs viewers Winning Time is a “dramatization” of the true story, West sent a legal letter to HBO demanding a retraction. He says that the show “falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic.” Per THR, HBO has issued its own statement to declare that the cabler stands by the series, noting that certain parts of the series are “fictionalized” while still noting the “extensive factual research” that had been put into the project.

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“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes. Winning Time is not a documentary and has not been presented as such. However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”

It’s just the latest controversy to hit Winning Time. NBA lawyers had already reportedly been in touch about using the brand’s registered trademarks and logos. Behind the scenes, the series had also apparently caused a rift in the longtime friendship between producer Adam McKay and Will Ferrell. Initially, Ferrell was going to play Jerry Buss and was said to be very excited about the part. McKay wound up recasting the role with Ferrell’s Stepbrothers co-star John C. Reilly, and Ferrell has since stopped talking to McKay.

Winning Time Drew Ire From Former Los Angeles Lakers Stars

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s played by Solomon Hughes in Winning Time, is no fan of the show, either. He previously said how he couldn’t make it past the first episode, and spoke at length about his disdain for the series in a blog post. The NBA icon has also stood by Jerry West by arguing that Jason Clarke’s depiction of the man he knows in real life is not accurate. As Abdul-Jabbar puts it:


“It’s a shame the way they treat Jerry West, who has openly discussed his struggle with mental health, especially depression. Instead of exploring his issues with compassion as a way to better understand the man, they turn him into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to be laughed at. He never broke golf clubs, he didn’t throw his trophy through the window. Sure, those actions make dramatic moments, but they reek of facile exploitation of the man rather than exploration of character.”

For his part, Magic Johnson, played by Quincy Isaiah in the series, didn’t even bother watching. Johnson said he was “not looking forward to it” and urged Lakers fans to check out his new Apple documentary They Call Me Magic instead. Johnson may not have been watching, but enough people were to warrant a second season, as HBO has already greenlit Winning Time for season 2.


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