HBO has canceled “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” after just two seasons, a surprising move following the second-season finale. Co-creator Max Borenstein expressed gratitude, while director Salli Richardson shared pride in their work.
The series, which began in March 2022, depicted the Los Angeles Lakers’ rise in the early 1980s. It faced criticism and legal challenges for its portrayal of real figures, but HBO defended it as a dramatization based on research.
When the show premiered, it faced criticism from Lakers and even former Lakers coach and general manager Jerry West, portrayed in the series by Jason Clarke. West went so far as to send a legal letter to Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO, and series producer Adam McKay, demanding a retraction, an apology, and unspecified damages, claiming that the show portrayed him falsely and defamatorily. HBO responded by emphasizing that “Winning Time” is not a documentary but a dramatization based on extensive research and reliable sources.
Former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson also voiced their objections to the series, with Abdul-Jabbar calling it “boring” and featuring “crude stick-figure representations” of real individuals. Johnson asserted that a Lakers story must include the real Lakers, emphasizing the importance of the actual players in the narrative.