Magic Johnson is not exactly an expert when it comes to quality television (see: his short-lived 1998 talk show “The Magic Hour”). But he is revealing what exactly bugs him about the new HBO series on the Showtime Lakers.
In an interview this week with Variety, the retired Lakers great sounded off on “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” which premiered on HBO last month. Johnson said that he did not like the fact that no one involved with the project sought participation from him or his former Showtime teammates.
“First of all, you can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers,” said Johnson. “The real Lakers. You gotta have the guys. There’s no way to duplicate Showtime. I don’t care who you get.
“Showtime started on the court — just unbelievable,” Johnson continued. “We changed basketball! Fast-breaking entertainment. Every time out, Paula Abdul and them beautiful Laker Girls came out on that floor. First time ever. Dancing girls! And they turnt it out. All the latest music, and all the latest dances. You can’t duplicate that.”
The Basketball Hall of Famer Johnson touched on many other aspects of the Showtime era and his experiences over the years since then in the interview with Variety. You can read it in its entirety here.
The HBO series, which tabbed actors like John C. Reilly and Jason Clarke to portray the key figures of the Lakers’ Showtime era, debuted on March 6 and has been averaging roughly 300,000 viewers per episode, via Nielsen. But Johnson has been unhappy about the project from the very start and already threw shade at it several months ago. He also has a competing TV series on the horizon, a four-part docuseries entitled “They Call Me Magic” set to premiere on Apple TV Plus later this month.
The Showtime Lakers did already have somewhat of a chance to tell their story with ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary in 2017 focusing on their rivalry with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. Regardless, there may also be other reasons why the figures of that era are unhappy with the HBO series.