Magic Johnson Just the Latest Member of the Showtime Lakers to Turn a Cold Shoulder to New HBO Series

Add Magic Johnson to the long list of Los Angeles Lakers legends not entirely pleased about the upcoming HBO series Winning Time. Based on the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, the series premieres on the HBO Max streaming service in March. But it’s gotten a less-than-warm reception from the Lakers and the NBA.

Winning Time is a scripted show rather than a documentary. As such, critics say it takes extreme liberties with history. The family of late team owner Dr. Jerry Buss is reportedly unhappy with how he is portrayed. Johnson is just the latest person associated with the franchise to pan the new series.

Magic Johnson has a documentary series coming soon

Magic Johnson is not at all interested in HBO's new series based on the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s.
Magic Johnson is not at all interested in HBO’s new series based on the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. | Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

In November, Apple TV+ announced plans to produce a four-part documentary series on Magic Johnson. According to Tracy Brown of the Los Angeles Times, the documentary will feature Johnson’s childhood in Lansing, Michigan, his NBA career, and his work as an HIV/AIDS education activist.

Johnson prematurely ended his career in November 1991 after a positive diagnosis for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He returned for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game and as a member of the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Johnson also had a cameo with the Lakers in 1996.

He also coached the Lakers for 16 games at the end of the 1993–94 season and served as president of basketball operations for the franchise for a little more than two years from February 2017-April 2019.

Now 62, Johnson turned his Magic Johnson Enterprises into a $500 million company and has a net worth of $600 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

As a player, Johnson led Michigan State to its first national championship in 1979, leading the Spartans past Larry Bird and his previously undefeated Indiana State squad. The duo went on to redefine the NBA in the 1980s.

Johnson was the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. He led LA to five NBA titles and won three NBA MVP and three NBA Finals MVP awards.

Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2002, Johnson was recently named to the NBA 75th-anniversary team. He is also the all-time leader in assists per game with 11.2.

Magic Johnson is not at all enthusiastic about HBO’s ‘Winning Time’

There’s been a lot of hype behind Winning Time, but Magic Johnson isn’t buying it. He told TMZ Sports he has no plans to watch the show.

“I’m not looking forward to it. I’m going to leave it at that.”

Instead, Johnson says he’s working on his project. Rick Famuyiwa, known for his work as the producer of the 2015 film Dope and his directorial efforts on the Star Wars series The Mandalorian Disney+, is directing the documentary series.

“No, we got different shows coming out,” Johnson said. “I got one; then you got Jeanie Buss got one on Showtime coming out. Those are the ones I’m looking forward to.”

Buss is working with Mindy Kaling on a Lakers-inspired comedy on Netflix.

Winning Time not a winner for the NBA

After the release of the first trailer for Winning Time, Matthew Belloni of Puck reported that the show was not well-liked in NBA circles.

“It’s absolutely true that the Buss family, the Lakers leadership, it’s ‘’80s-era players, and the NBA in general absolutely hate this show,” Belloni wrote. “[They feel] HBO and McKay have taken real people and turned them into a fictionalized ‘’80s version of Entourage or Ballers. According to someone who’s seen the pilot, it’s raunchy, filled with drugs and womanizing, and it is said to portray [Jerry] Buss as a misogynist party boy.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said there were better ways to tell the story of the Showtime Lakers.

A relatively unknown actor, Quincy Isaiah, portrays Magic Johnson. There are some more notable names in the show. John C. Reilly plays Jerry Buss, Michael Chiklis appears as Red Auerbach, Adrien Brody portrays Pat Riley, Sally Field is Jessie Buss, and Jason Segal landed the role of former coach Paul Westhead.

While HBO announced the series would debut in March, there’s been no announcement of an official date. Adam McKay is the producer of Winning Time. The series is based on the Jeff Pearlman book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, released in 2014.

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