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Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were among former Los Angeles Lakers staffers who expressed dissatisfaction with their portrayals in the HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.”
The series depicts the spectacle era of the Lakers franchise. Jason Clarke plays West, Solomon Hughes plays Abdul-Jabbar, John C. Reilly plays then-team owner Dr. Jerry Buss, and Quincy Isaiah plays Magic Johnson.
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West’s attorneys, in a statement to ESPN, said he demanded a retraction on the description which allegedly describes him “as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage addict.” West requests a retraction within two weeks of the letter to producer Adam McKay and HBO.
“The depiction of NBA icon and LA Lakers legend Jerry West in ‘Winning Time’ is fiction purporting to be fact – a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family,” said West’s attorney, Skip Miller, in the letter. “Contrary to the baseless portrayal of the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love and harmony with the Lakers organization, and in particular the owner, Dr. Jerry Buss, at a time when he was gathering one of the greatest teams in NBA history.”
“Jerry West was integral to the success of the Lakers and the NBA. It’s a travesty that HBO knowingly belittled him for his shock value and continued ratings. As an act of common decency, HBO and the producers owe Jerry a public apology and at the very least should withdraw their baseless and defamatory portrayal of him.”
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West was a Lakers executive from 1979 to 2000 after serving as head coach from 1976 to 1979. He served as a scout before becoming the team’s general manager at the start of the 1982-83 season. In the 1980s, the Lakers won five championships.
HBO did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. The show is based on the New York Times bestseller “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s” by Jeff Pearlman.
According to ESPN, the letter also included support for West from Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes and former Lakers employees such as Mitch Kupchak who later became the team’s general manager.
“Instead of exploring his issues with compassion to better understand the man, they make it a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to make fun of,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “He never broke golf clubs, he didn’t throw his trophy out the window. Sure, those actions make for dramatic moments, but they reek of easy human exploitation rather than exploration. of the character.”
Abdul-Jabbar added in a separate SubStack post that the characters are “raw representations of stick figures that look like real people like Lego Hans Solo looks like Harrison Ford. Each character is reduced to a single bold stroke as if the writers worried that something more complex would tax viewers’ understanding.”
Kupchak added that he had never seen West “have a blast with anyone.”
Johnson told TMZ Sports in March that he had no plans to watch the series.
Jason Segel, who plays Lakers coach Paul Westhead on the show, told The Hollywood Reporter it was “not a documentary series” and thought the show was “made with a lot of love.”
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Pearlman also defended the series in a Twitter feed Tuesday.