It seems that despite the growing popularity of the new HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Los Angeles Lakers,” Jerry West is not a fan. Especially of how he is portrayed in the show based on the franchise’s ascension to prominence in the 1980s.
There is no better sign of the success of “Winning Time” than the fact that the series has already been renewed by HBO for a second season even before its debut season has finished. Yet, the series spearheaded by Academy Award-nominated directed Adam McKay has caught on quickly with its blend of comedy and drama as it toes the line of fact and fiction during the early years of Jerry Buss’s ownership of the legendary franchise.
Part of the show’s appeal is the portrayal of iconic NBA figures like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Buss, Pat Riley, and the logo himself, Jerry West. The version of West on the show — played by talented Australian actor Jason Clarke — is one of the most outlandish in a series filled with several complicated personalities.
Jerry West claims ‘malicious assault’ on his character in ‘Winning Time’ portrayal
Clarke’s portrayal of West is of a man that does not seem to truly take joy in winning and is normally stressed out during F-bomb-filled tirades as the franchise goes through its evolution into the Showtime Lakers millions of NBA fans would eventually become familiar with. The “Winning Time” impression of West surely doesn’t seem like a stable person, but he is highly entertaining nonetheless.
Well, it seems like the man the character is based on hates the light the show has put him in. On Tuesday, ESPN reported that the NBA Hall-of-Famer — as well as a former coach and Lakers executive — has formally requested a retraction and apology from HBO and producers of the series.
In a letter to the network and the showrunners, West’s lawyers claim the series is a “baseless and malicious assault” on his character. That “Winning Time falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic” and that it “bears no resemblance to the real man.” The letter claims the show’s creators acted with “legal malice” and they want a retraction no later than two weeks from receipt of the letter obtained by ESPN.
It is unlikely the show will be taken off the air after such success — it currently has an 84% positive score with both fans and critics on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes — however, a public apology and a hefty settlement may be in line for the logo in the near future.