Winning Time is no longer successful.
After two seasons, the show, whose official title is Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, has been cancelled by HBO. Moments after the network’s Sunday night airing of the second-season finale, the news shocked everyone.
Max Borenstein, a co-creator, commented on the news on X (formerly Twitter): “Not the ending that we had in mind. But nothing but gratitude and love.”
Salli Richardson, a filmmaker, also wrote on Instagram: “When you give it everything you’ve got, you can have no regrets. I hope you enjoy the last episode of @winningtimehbo I am sure I will do many more hours of TV and hopefully many features in my future, but I can say that at this moment in time I am most proud of the work we did on this masterful show.”
In a meeting led with THR in late August, Richardson shared expects a third season, considering how the finale works out. “Obviously, you see how the season ends. So we would love to have, at the very least, even though we can do this for years, one more season so that we can get the Lakers winning against the Celtics. We don’t want to end with the Celtics winning. That’s awful,” she told THR. “I think people have realized this season that if you just watch the show instead of judging the show without seeing it, it’s a great show. It’s a well-written show with unbelievable performances. And you don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy it. I think that what Jeff was trying to say is that he just hopes that people find this little gem that’s out there, because it really is a great show and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
The Los Angeles Lakers NBA team and its ascent in the early 1980s are the topic of the programme, which began in March 2022. The 1979–80 season featured Magic Johnson’s rookie season and Jerry Buss’ first season as the team’s owner. The following four years are the time frame for the second season.
Based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, Borenstein and Jim Hecht developed the television series.
Jerry West, a former Lakers coach and general manager who was represented in the series by Jason Clarke, received criticism when it first aired. At the time, West sent a legal letter to HBO, Warner Bros. Discovery, and series creator Adam McKay demanding an apology, a retraction, and unspecified financial compensation for the “false and defamatory portrayal.” Through his words, West claimed that those who had seen him in Winning Time now saw him as a “out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic.”
In response, HBO told The Hollywood Reporter that the network “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. 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.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, both ex-Lakers, also had issues with the show. The former referred to it as “boring” and said that it featured “crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people.”
For his part, Johnson said: “You can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers. The real Lakers. You gotta have the guys.”
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