Legendary Los Angeles Lakers coach Jerry West has called upon HBO to apologize for his portrayal in the new show Winning Time, which chronicles the champion Lakers dynasty in the 1980s.
Speaking to ESPN, West’s attorney’s claimed that the show “falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic” that “bears no resemblance to the real man.”
“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,” attorney Skip Miller told ESPN.
Jerry West has demanded a retraction and apology from the HBO series “Winning Time” team. For what he called “a baseless and malicious assault" on his character. & he’d like a retraction within 2 weeks of the receipt of the letter.
(Per @ramonashelburne) https://t.co/LslpynA5Gj pic.twitter.com/2J8WgL2bSW
— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) April 20, 2022
“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,” added Miller.
The attorney further claimed that HBO degraded West’s portrayal strictly for “shock value” and demanded that the company, as well as executive producer Adam McKay, apologize for the “defamatory” portrayal.
‘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.’
Jerry West coached the Lakers for three seasons until moving into the general manager role for nearly two decades. His attorneys further alleged that he leaves a “false impression” in his treatment of Magic Johnson.
West spent three seasons leading the Lakers as a coach before moving into the front office — where he stayed for nearly two decades.
“This is a fabrication. You depict Jerry as a clueless bumpkin-wearing a fishing hat to practice, which also never happened- rather than a dedicated and capable GM,” said the attorneys.
“You omit any reference to Jerry being one of the most accomplished and well-regarded NBA executives in history,” they added. “Instead, you degrade him by exaggerating his urging the Lakers not to draft Magic Johnson. Contrary to the show, the book leaves readers with the true impression of Jerry as a brilliant and thoughtful GM.”
Former Lakers great Jerry West has demanded a retraction and an apology for what he called, "a baseless and malicious assault," on his character in the HBO series, "Winning Time."
(via @ramonashelburne) pic.twitter.com/c9rnGKf8tY
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Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also bashed the show in his latest Substack post, and neither appreciated West’s portrayal nor his own, referring to the show as a “Frankenstein’s monster” stitched together from gossip columns.
“If you gathered the biggest gossip-mongers from the Real Housewives franchise and they collected all the rumors they heard about each other from Twitter and then played Telephone with each other you’d have the stitched-together Frankenstein’s monster that is this show,” he wrote.
Abdul-Jabbar argued that each character was essentially reduced to a caricature.
“Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick. They are caricatures, not characters. Amusement park portraits that emphasize one physical feature to amplify your appearance—but never touching the essence,” he wrote.
On Jerry West, in particular, Abdul-Jabbar told ESPN that the show reduced him into a cartoon character to be laughed at.
“He never broke golf clubs, he didn’t throw his trophy through the window. Sure, those actions make dramatic moments, but they reek of facile exploitation of the man rather than exploration of character,” he said.
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