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HBO stresses ‘Winning Time’ not a documentary after Jerry West criticism

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HBO has stressed its new series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” is not a documentary after NBA legend Jerry West publicly criticized the series for the portrayal of his character. 

HBO said in a statement on Tuesday that the “Winning Time” series characters are based on “extensive factual research and reliable sourcing,” adding that it will stand by the show’s creators on the matter. 

“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes. ‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and has not been presented as such,” the network said in a statement. 

“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,” HBO concluded in its statement. 

West has demanded an apology and retraction over his portrayal in the popular series. West’s lawyers have alleged that the show portrays West “as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic,” citing it as “a baseless and malicious assault” on the real West. 

“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,” West’s attorney Skip Miller said in a statement. “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.”

West’s attorneys also include statements from former Lakers players and employees, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and current Charlotte Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak, who deny that they ever saw West drink in the office or otherwise act in the negative way they say he is portrayed in the series.

“HBO’s response is disappointing,” Miller said in a statement to The Hill. “It also acknowledges malice and recklessness on behalf of the network and producers of ‘Winning Time.’ If they had actually done research into the distinguished career of Jerry West, as they claim, they would have known full well that their portrayal of Jerry violated the law.

“This was not dramatization. This was character assassination for the sake of ratings.”

“Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” which premiered on the premium cable network in March, is based on Jeff Pearlman’s book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers,” which chronicles the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers dynasty, often referred to as the “Showtime Lakers,” from its rise to its eventual end.

West, nicknamed “The Logo” due to his silhouette being used in the NBA’s logo, served as the general manager for the Lakers during the 1980s, helping build a team that won five league championships in that decade.

—Updated at 4:14 p.m.

Tags California HBO HBO HBO HBO Max Jerry West Jerry West Jerry West Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Los Angeles Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles Lakers Miller Barondess LLP NBA Winning Time: Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

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