HBO has some explaining to do. Some of the greatest players ever to wear purple and gold say that Winning Time is far from accurate.
As per Vulture, some of the Los Angeles Lakers depicted in the new sports drama series have vocalized their displeasure with how they are portrayed and the lack of authenticity used to tell the story. Earlier this week, legend Jerry West shared his frustration with Home Box Office and even went to the extent of requesting a retraction via his legal team. ESPN obtained the letter in question.
“The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. Lakers legend Jerry West in ‘Winning Time’ is fiction pretending to be fact — a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family,” said Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess LLP law firm in Los Angeles and attorney for West. “Contrary to the baseless portrayal in the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization, and in particular owner Dr. Jerry Buss, during an era in which he assembled one of the greatest teams in NBA history.”
Magic Johnson also made it clear he isn’t checking for it. In a recent interview with Variety, he detailed that the show was doomed to be mid. “First of all, you can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers. The real Lakers. You got to have the guys. There’s no way to duplicate Showtime. I don’t care who you get.” He also went on to say that the production staff failed to reach out to him or any of his teammates for intel and or direction.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also was very critical of the series on his Substack Blog. “I’ll start with the bland characterization. The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people the way Lego Hans Solo resembles Harrison Ford. Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension” he wrote, “Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick. They are caricatures, not characters. Amusement park portraits that emphasize one physical feature to amplify your appearance—but never touching the essence.”
HBO has yet to respond to West’s letter.