HBO Responds To Jerry West’s Threat To Sue Over ‘Winning Time’ Portrayal

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Jerry West has major issues with how he is portrayed in the HBO series, “Winning Time,” and as you likely know, has threatened to take the show’s creators to court.

West’s character is indeed surly, fairly miserable and even seemingly tortured. If anything, his character cared about the Lakers too much and hasn’t managed to find peace in winning or his Hall of Fame accomplishments as a player.

So the real West is prepared to sue, he says, because that is nothing like how he was/is. Others who know West — such as Magic Johnson — have come out in support.

But now, the creators of “Winning Time” have responded, saying that the character is only loosely based on West, a mostly fictional account, and that is something that is made known during promotion of the program.

“Winning Time” is based on the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s and stars John C. Reilly as former team owner Jerry Buss.

“The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. 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,” said Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess LLP law firm in Los Angeles and attorney for West. “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.

“Jerry West was an integral part of the Lakers and NBA’s success. 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.”

In other words, try to relax, Jerry. Everyone appreciates what you did in building the Lakers, and everyone respects how you went about it. And most everyone who follows or cares about “Winning Time” and those old Showtime Lakers does not consider the portrayal of West to be real — or even a bad thing.

In most ways, the portrayal of West in “Winning Time” is actually admirable. Let’s hope he can come to appreciate it, too.

“Winning Time” airs Sundays on HBO Max and is about to wrap up its first season. It has been picked up for a second season.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,


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