Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Calls HBO Series On Showtime Lakers Shallow, Boring

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NBA Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says the HBO series Winning Time is bland, shallow and lazy.

Other than that, the Hall of Fame center thinks the program on the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s is a smash hit. Or something.

“There is only one immutable sin in writing: Don’t Be Boring! Winning Time commits that sin over and over,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in his Substack email newsletter.

Abdul-Jabbar insisted he had no issue with his portrayal in the show. “There’s very little that anyone can say about me — whether it’s true or false — that will affect my life,” he wrote. “Especially in a TV show.”

Instead, Abdul-Jabbar was seemingly pained by having to fight off sleep while watching something that he already lived.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is recognized before the game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers on April 8. (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

“The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people the way Lego Hans Solo resembles Harrison Ford,” he wrote. “Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension. Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick.”

The series stars John C. Reilly as Buss, Quincy Isaiah as Johnson and Hadley Robinson as current owner Jeannie Buss. It has received some criticism around the NBA for its harsh portrayal of West, played by Jason Clarke. Abdul-Jabbar is played by Solomon Hughes.

Winning Time is actually based on Jeff Pearlman’s outstanding book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. So far, the series has focused solely on the 1979-80 season.

Based on Abdul-Jabbar’s opinion, you should probably read the book and skip the movie. Or in this case, the TV show.

“One major difference here is that most the people being portrayed are still alive, still have a legacy that is important to them. I may have made up words and actions for Queen Victoria, but I didn’t denigrate her,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

Follow Sam Amico’s NBA coverage @AmicoHoops

Written by Sam Amico

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


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