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Former Los Angeles Laker Jerry West demands an apology from HBO

In a series which focuses on the dynasty years between the 70s and 80s, West believes his portrayal is untrue and unjust.

Paul Rudder
Lakers legend Jerry West demands an apology from HBO regarding his portrayal in "Winning Time" series.

The former Laker was none to pleased about the light in which he was painted in the recently released series

Jerry West is not happy with HBO’s Lakers documentary

According to reports, Los Angeles Lakers legend and current Los Angeles Clippers consultant Jerry West is very offended by his portrayal in HBO’s documentary series, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.” Indeed, West has actually demanded a retraction and an apology from HBO and even sent a letter to the company and the producer of the show Adam McKay. The former Laker argued that the show presents him as an “out-of-control, intoxicated rage-a-holic.”

Jerry West’s attorney weighs in

West’s attorney also gave a statement saying, “The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. 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. 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.” Miller continued, “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.”

What is HBO’s ‘Winning Time’ about?

To begin with it should be noted that the series is based on the book by Jeff Pearlman entitled, “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty.” Among other moments that can be seen in the show, there are definitely some eyebrow raising ones such as when West rages against the selection of Magic Johnson, or when he appears to toss his Finals MVP trophy through a window. There is also what appears to be an attempt on West’s part to replace interim head coach Paul Westhead with former teammate Elgin Baylor in the middle of a road trip.

With regards to episodes which have been aired so far, they have all focused entirely on the 1979/80 NBA season. With that in mind we can expect to see in the future, West’s time as the franchise’s general manager during the period from 1982 all the way to 2002.

Jerry West after the Los Angeles Lakers

After leaving the Lakers in 2002, West actually took control of the Memphis Grizzlies. While his time with the Grizzlies was not as glamours as his tenure in LA, he succeeded in turning an otherwise struggling franchise into one that made the playoffs consistently. As if to punctuate the point he even picked up an NBA Executive of the Year award in 2004. After retiring from the job, West would return to the game in 2011 with the Golden State Warriors. There as an executive board member in 2015, West guided the Warriors to their first championship in 40 years. The title was West’s seventh as a team executive; he would get is eight the following season. Today, West serves as an executive board member with the Los Angeles Clippers.

In the end whether or not HBO’s portrayal of the Lakers’ legend is embellished for dramatic effect, it should be said that over the last year relations between West and the Lakers have been strained to say the least. Last year, West voiced his displeasure at being omitted from owner Jeanie Buss’ list of top-five Lakers ever. Then as recently as this season West alleged that the franchise had revoked his lifetime access to season tickets.


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