HBO Defends Los Angeles Lakers ‘Dramatization’ in ‘Winning Time’

After being asked for a retraction and apology last week by former Los Angeles Lakers executive Jerry West for “a baseless and malicious assault” on his character, HBO instead released a statement on Tuesday defending his series “Winning Time”, claiming its “dramatization”. ” is “based on extensive factual research and reliable supply”.

West’s attorneys alleged last week that ‘Winning Time falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an intoxicated, uncontrollable maniac’, saying ‘he bears no resemblance to the real man’. In the April 19 letter to HBO and series producer Adam McKay, obtained by ESPN, West’s attorneys requested a retraction no later than two weeks from receipt of the letter.

HBO released its response Tuesday in a statement originally given to The Hollywood Reporter and later obtained by ESPN.

“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from true facts and events that are partly fictionalized for dramatic purposes,” the network said in its statement. “‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and was not presented as such. However, the series and its portrayals are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO steadfastly supports our talented creators and actors who brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”

West’s attorneys said HBO’s disclaimer that the series is a dramatization does not absolve the network of liability.

The series, which aired Sunday nights this spring on HBO, is based on author Jeff Pearlman’s book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.”

West’s attorneys alleged that the show’s creators acted with “legal malice” because many of the show’s scenes showing West’s alleged rage did not appear in Pearlman’s book and did not occur. The letter includes statements from former players such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Jamaal Wilkes, as well as Lakers employees such as Claire Rothman, Charlene Kenney, Bob Steiner and Mitch Kupchak who worked with West during the period. covered by the show. , who deny ever seeing him commit any of the acts of rage depicted in the series or drink alcohol in the office.

“Instead of exploring his issues with compassion to better understand the man, they make it a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to make fun of,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a statement. “He never broke golf clubs, he didn’t throw his trophy out the window. Sure, those actions make for dramatic moments, but they reek of easy human exploitation rather than exploration. of the character.”

West’s attorneys said he must retract, apologize and seek damages from HBO and the show’s producers because “the show goes out of its way to disparage Jerry West despite his accomplishments as a that frame”.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.