Sports

Jerry West and the Showtime Lakers are mad about their depiction in a Hollywood production of the most Hollywood era in sports


Jason Clarke depicts Jerry West as an over-the-top maniac in “Winning Time.”

Jason Clarke depicts Jerry West as an over-the-top maniac in “Winning Time.”
Image: Courtesy of HBO

Jerry, Kareem, and Magic are pissed.

However, we’ll never know exactly what they’re so pissed about. Are they angered by a television show that’s playing fast and loose about actual, or made-up, events? Or, are they irritated by the fact that it’s exposing some truths in a social media era from a time when secrets were a lot easier to keep?

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The truth is always somewhere in the middle.

On Tuesday, former Laker great Jerry West demanded an apology and retraction for “a baseless and malicious assault” on this character that’s being portrayed by actor Jason Clarke in HBO’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.” The Logo is irate at the fact that he’s being portrayed as an unhinged maniac.

“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,” wrote West’s attorney.

The funny part in this is that this is exactly what West’s character from the show would do.

Is art imitating life, or is life imitating art?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar thinks it’s all “deliberately dishonest,” as he wrote in his recent op-ed about the series.

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“Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension,” he explained. “Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick. They are caricatures, not characters. Amusement park portraits that emphasize one physical feature to amplify your appearance — but never touching the essence.”

The man who had one of the worst takes on the Will Smith/Chris Rock situation, and who constantly needles LeBron James for no reason, is upset and so is his former point guard. Magic Johnson isn’t tuning in, either.

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“So I don’t know what this stuff [‘Winning Time’] is, I haven’t watched it, I’m not gonna watch it. And all the guys said the same thing. Kareem, everybody. You can’t do it,” Johnson explained.

“I mean, I understand where they’re coming from because it’s a story about their lives,” said Quincy Isaiah, who is nailing his role as Johnson. “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. There’s no malice behind it.”

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Ironically, Jerry West’s demand came during the same week in which Magic Johnson’s series “They Call Me Magic” will be released, as it will explore the impact he had on the court, and in business and culture in a docuseries that Variety called “glowingly promotional.”

Well, isn’t that convenient.

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