Lakers Legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West Ruthlessly Slam HBO’s ‘Winning Time’

HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty has been a hit among fans and critics thus far. The popular television series, which is based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, tells the story of the 1980s Lakers and stars famous actors such as John C. Reilly, Jason Segel, and Adrien Brody.

Fans have loved the unique portrayal of the Showtime Lakers, but the people being portrayed haven’t been as receptive to the series. LA greats Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West recently slammed HBO and the creators of Winning Time for their “dishonest” and “deliberately false” story.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rips Winning Time for being “dishonest” and “dull”

Abdul-Jabbar didn’t plan on watching Winning Time in the first place. In a searing piece posted on his Substack last week, the Hall of Famer called it a “waste of time” to watch an outsider’s interpretation of events he lived through himself.

But after seeing some harsh reviews from his former teammates and peers, he decided to take a look.

Abdul-Jabbar’s first gripe was that Winning Time was “drearily dull.”

“There is only one immutable sin in writing: Don’t Be Boring! Winning Time commits that sin over and over,” he wrote.

The Dream also felt the creators of the series didn’t tell an accurate story of the 1980s Lakers. He claimed there were multiple scenes in the show that never happened in real life, and the filmmakers avoided the truth in favor of “shocking moments.”

“Yeah, there’s an amazing, compelling, culturally insightful story in there. Winning Time just ain’t that story,” he concluded.

Jerry West piles on Winning Time and demands a retraction

Jerry West watches a game between the Clippers and Hornets.
Jerry West attends a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Charlotte Hornets | Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Abdul-Jabbar was clearly critical of Winning Time in his write-up, but his comments were tame compared to how Jerry West reacted. Last week, the former Lakers executive and 14-time All-Star sent a letter through his legal team to HBO and producer Adam McKay demanding a retraction and an apology for a “baseless and malicious assault” on his character, per ESPN.

“The portrayal of NBA icon and LA 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,” West’s attorney, Skip Miller told ESPN. “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.

“Jerry West was an integral part of the Lakers and NBA’s success. It is a travesty that HBO has knowingly demeaned him for shock value and the pursuit of ratings. As an act of common decency, HBO and the producers owe Jerry a public apology and at the very least should retract their baseless and defamatory portrayal of him.”

West’s lawyers alleged that Winning Time “falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic” that “bears no resemblance to the real man,” per ESPN. They’re seeking a retraction, an apology, and damages from HBO for painting West in a fictional light.

If you’re enjoying HBO’s new series, just remember how critical former Lakers have been before taking every scene as fact.

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