As the Los Angeles Times reports, the Clippers executive and Lakers icon has once again blasted the series after HBO was forced to defend its dramatization of the Showtime Lakers. In a recent chat with Bill Dwyre for the Times, West said he was looking forward to watching The Dream Whisperer, the documentary about his former teammate Dick Barnett. He remarked that he was looking forward to something that’s “accurate” and a positive portrayal of the team, not so subtly referring to HBO’s Winning Time.
In a letter he sent via his attorney Louis R. Miller last week, West suggested the team behind the series, which includes Adam McKay at the helm, “replaced the real Jerry West” with “his polar opposite.” He accused the creators of portraying the dramatization “as genuine,” which he argued “thereby violated the law.” The letter requested “a retraction of Winning Time’s false depiction of Jerry West,” indicating that legal action was on the horizon.
“The series made us all [the Lakers] look like cartoon characters,” West told Dwyre, confirming his plans to take legal action if he deems it necessary. “They belittled something good. If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.” West is portrayed by Jason Clarke in the series, which has also received criticism for its alleged inaccuracy from Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
HBO defended the show last week following criticism. "HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes," reads HBO's response, which was provided to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this week. “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."
The show is partially based on Jeff Pearlman’s book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. In a recent interview with Complex, Magic Johnson talked about his Apple TV+ docuseries They Call Me Magic and how it's the "real Showtime, real truth about what happened," which was seemingly a reference to the HBO series.
Quincy Isaiah, the actor who portrays Magic in the show, told TMZ earlier this month that the show was not made with any intended malice. “I mean, I understand where they coming from because it’s a story about their lives,” Isaiah said. “So, it’s tough. But I really feel like we did a really good job of showing humans and showing a full version of who we at least perceive them to be.” He continued, “There’s no malice behind it.”