Jerry West Reacts: HBO Greenlights Second Season of ‘Winning Time’ Despite Controversy

‘Winning Time’ Season Finale: Lakers Dynasty, Fictionalized Glory, and Mixed Reactions

The Rise of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers

The first season of the HBO series ‘Winning Time’ came to a captivating close last night, delving into the historic victory of the 1980s NBA Championship by the Los Angeles Lakers during Magic Johnson’s rookie year. This television series, which is based on true events, has garnered attention for its unique storytelling approach, taking liberties to fill in the gaps with fictional storylines that both captivated and divided audiences. While die-hard Lakers fans yearned for a fact-based narrative, casual viewers embraced the fictionalized glimpse into the early days of the legendary Showtime Lakers.

Dearth of Success: Current Lakers and the Nostalgic Craving

As the present-day Lakers faced a disappointing season, failing to qualify for the Play-In Tournament despite being considered one of the betting favorites for the 2022 NBA championship, fans were left yearning for the glory of the past. During the team’s darkest times in March and April, when their performance earned them the dubious title of “Losing Time,” viewers found solace in the contrast with the magical era depicted in ‘Winning Time’ and the charismatic leadership of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Magic and Kareem: Criticism and Disillusionment

Magic Johnson, portrayed by Quincy Isaiah, expressed dissatisfaction with the series, claiming that he had not watched it but believed it to be inaccurate. According to Magic, without the involvement of Lakers themselves in telling their story, the series falls short of capturing their experiences.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, offered his critique of ‘Winning Time’ after viewing only the first episode. In an essay within his weekly newsletter, Abdul-Jabbar likened the characters in the series to crude stick-figure representations that failed to capture their depth and complexity. He perceived them as mere caricatures, lacking the essence of the individuals they were based on. Abdul-Jabbar’s evaluation raises the perennial challenge faced by any adaptation of real events—reality can never be fully replicated on the screen.

The Entertainment Lens: Hollywood’s Interpretation

It is crucial to remember that Hollywood caters to the entertainment needs of its audience. Whether it be reviving comic book heroes or portraying the rise of a sports team, viewers experience stories through the interpretation of the storyteller. ‘Winning Time’ presents the Showtime Lakers through the creative lenses of showrunners Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, based on Jeff Pearlman’s book. This lens shapes the narrative, embracing fictional elements to engage and enthrall viewers.

The Confrontation: Jerry West’s Discontent

One of the series’ central figures, Jerry West, played by Australian actor Jason Clarke, found himself dissatisfied with his portrayal in ‘Winning Time.’ Upset by the depiction, West demanded both an apology and a retraction from HBO. The show introduces West as an unhappy head coach who steps down upon Jerry Buss’ acquisition of the Lakers, contributing to the narrative’s conflict and drama. West’s attorney, Skip Miller, expressed concern over the fictionalized characterization, asserting that it contradicted the real-life relationship dynamics during an era where West was instrumental in assembling one of the greatest teams in NBA history.

While the portrayal may have taken artistic liberties, it is important to note that West emerged as one of the memorable characters in ‘Winning Time.’ His involvement in humorous and compelling scenes gave the series an added dimension, even as it clashed with the real-life West’s perception.

Season 2: What Lies Ahead for ‘Winning Time’

Following the success of its first season, ‘Winning Time’ has been greenlit for a second season, leaving fans eager to see how the story will unfold. The creative team is already hard at work conceptualizing season two. Speculation surrounds the timeline, contemplating whether it will focus on the iconic Bird vs. Magic years in the mid-1980s or Magic Johnson’s retirement following his contraction of HIV.

In an interview with Deadline, executive producer Max Borenstein teased some details about the upcoming season. It appears that the second season will pick up immediately after the Lakers’ triumphant win of the 1980 NBA championship. However, it foreshadows a rocky season ahead, marked by a falling-out between the Lakers and head coach Paul Westhead. As Westhead attempts to assert his own style on the team, it leads to their early exit from the playoffs and his eventual dismissal. However, this sets the stage for the legendary Pat Riley to take over as head coach in the following season, ultimately propelling the Lakers to further success.

It remains uncertain when the highly anticipated Bird vs. Magic rivalry will take center stage, possibly waiting until the third season of ‘Winning Time.’ Fans eagerly await the revelation of who will portray iconic Lakers figures such as Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, and Byron Scott. Equally enthralling will be the depiction of other legendary members of the 1980s Celtics, including head coach KC Jones, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge.


In conclusion, ‘Winning Time’ has certainly made its mark in capturing the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty during the 1980s. While opinions have varied regarding its accuracy and portrayal of real events, the series has undeniably engaged the audience with its fictionalized narrative. As the story continues to unfold in future seasons, viewers can anticipate a rollercoaster ride through the triumphs and challenges that defined this iconic era in basketball history.


1. Is ‘Winning Time’ entirely based on true events?

While ‘Winning Time’ is inspired by real events, the series incorporates fictional storylines to fill in the gaps and enhance the narrative. This mix of fact and fiction contributes to the show’s unique and captivating storytelling.

2. Will the series focus on the Bird vs. Magic rivalry in future seasons?

Although the exact trajectory of the series has not been revealed, fans speculate that the highly anticipated Bird vs. Magic rivalry will likely be a significant storyline in future seasons. The clash between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson is an integral part of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry and a defining moment in NBA history.

3. Who are some of the notable figures expected to be portrayed in the upcoming seasons?

In addition to key Lakers figures like Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, and Byron Scott, other iconic members of the 1980s Celtics are poised to make appearances. This might include head coach KC Jones, as well as players Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge.

4. How accurate can adaptations of real events be in comparison to reality?

No matter how well-crafted an adaptation may be, it can never fully capture the nuances and complexities of real-life events. While ‘Winning Time’ has faced some criticism for its fictional elements, it is important to remember that the essence of a story can often be better conveyed through a dramatized lens, engaging viewers on an emotional level.

5. Is ‘Winning Time’ suitable for casual viewers with limited knowledge of basketball history?

Absolutely! ‘Winning Time’ appeals not only to avid basketball fans but also to casual viewers who may be less familiar with the history of the sport. Through its engaging storytelling and vibrant characters, the series offers an exciting and accessible experience for viewers of all backgrounds.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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