Jerry West demands retraction, apology, for his depiction on HBO’s ‘Winning Time’

West states that his portrayal on the HBO series is 'deliberately false.'

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Since the premiere of the HBO series, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, several former Los Angeles Lakers have shared their disapproval of the way they were portrayed. Player turned GM Jerry West is the latest to come forward.

West’s attorney has issued a statement, demanding HBO issue a retraction and apology to the Hall of Famer over his depiction in Winning Time, The Wrap reported.

“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,” stated Skip Miller, West’s attorney.

2022 NBA All-Star Game
Jerry West reacts after being introduced as part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team during the 2022 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 20, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

“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.”

Winning Time is based on the Jeff Pearlman book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. The series is executive produced by Adam McKay, the Oscar and Emmy winning director/writer behind films like Step Brothers, Vice, The Big Short, and Don’t Look Up.

West is portrayed as an angry, tightly-wound man by actor Jason Clarke. West won championships both as the team’s superstar guard and its general manager. In the Winning Time timeline, he is transitioning from the head coach to a scout.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Statue Unveiling At STAPLES Center
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson at Staples Center on Nov. 16, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“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,” the statement went on.

West is not the only former Laker who objects to Winning Time’s revisionist history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer who won five championships as a Laker, called the show “deliberately dishonest” on his Substack page, criticizing the depiction of the real-life characters, including himself.

“Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension,” Abdul-Jabbar stated. “Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick. They are caricatures, not characters.”

Magic Johnson, who played his entire Hall of Famer career with The Lakers, told Variety that Winning Time had little merit because the show’s creators did not get input from the people who were there. “You can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers,” Johnson said. “The real Lakers. You gotta have the guys.”

Winning Time premiered on HBO on March 6. Its season finale will air May 8. It was already renewed for a second season.

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