HBO Defends Winning Time After Heavy Criticism From Former Lakers Stars

Winning Time HBO Controversy Criticism Lakers

HBO is playing defense after a number of former L.A. Lakers stars have taken public shots at the 1980s basketball docudrama Winning Time.

“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes,” the network said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Winning Time is not a documentary and has not been presented as such. However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”

Winning Time chronicles the Lakers’ famous “Showtime” era in the ’80s, following new team owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) as he revamps the team and turns them into an NBA dynasty. Those Lakers teams include budding superstar Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) and all-time great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes), with former Laker player Jerry West (Jason Clarke) working with Buss in the front office. But some of those same stars have come out with strong criticism of the way they’ve been portrayed on the show.

West sent a legal letter to HBO earlier this month demanding a retraction, an apology and unspecified damages for the show’s “false and defamatory” portrayal of him as an “out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic.” Abdul-Jabbar has also voiced his displeasure with the series, calling it “deliberately dishonest,” “drearily dull” and filled with “crude stick-figure representations.”

Since it debuted in March, each episode of Winning Time has included a disclaimer in the closing credits: “This series is a dramatization of certain facts and events. Some of the names have been changed, and some of the events and characters have been fictionalized, modified or composited for dramatic purposes.” HBO has already renewed the series for a second season.

Are you enjoying Winning Time so far, or does it take too many liberties with the truth? Hit the comments and give us your take.

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