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Mitch Kupchak Defends Jerry West Amidst Portrayal On HBO’s ‘Winning Time’

One of the most popular new shows in all of television has HBO’s drama series “Winning Time” based on the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s. While the show is entertaining to many, those connected to the Lakers franchise have made it clear that they had nothing to do with the show and no one has been more outspoken against it than former Lakers executive Jerry West.

Many former Lakers have been unhappy with the portrayal of themselves and others, but it has been the characterization of West that has come under the most scrutiny. It has gotten to the point where West has demanded a retraction and apology from the show and many have spoken out in support of the Lakers legend.

One of those is former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, who worked closely with West for decades. Kupchak greatly disagreed with the portrayal of West within the show in a statement that was part of the letter sent to the show from West and his lawyers, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

“During my time with the Lakers as a player and in the front office, Jerry was always professional, even-keeled and soft-spoken,” Kupchak said. “He was always positive and encouraging with me. I also found Jerry to be honest and sincere. I never saw or heard Jerry lose his temper with anyone. I also never saw or heard Jerry go on an angry rant or tirade nor did I ever see or hear Jerry scream or yell at anyone. That was not his personality. Jerry is soft-spoken and does not like confrontation. He always keeps his composure and remains calm even when he has a disagreement with someone. Last, I’ve never heard or seen Jerry ever break or throw anything in anger.”

Amongst the other former Lakers to speak in support of West were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and Jamaal Wilkes. Additionally, employees such as Claire Rothman, who is also portrayed in the show, spoke in support of West as well.

HBO does categorize “Winning Time” as a fictional drama, but it is based on real-life events from Jeff Pearlman’s book “Showtime.” In the show, West has been portrayed as being angry, drinking heavily and even going so far as to destroy his own office and Finals MVP trophy.

Those associated with the Lakers have regularly kept their distance from this show, but West believes it has gone too far and he has the backing of Kupchak and many of his other colleagues.

‘Winning Time’ renewed for second season

Despite the issues that have been caused and many former Lakers speaking out against the series, “Winning Time” remains extremely popular. So much so in fact that the series has already been renewed by HBO for a second season.

Whether that season will continue the story it has begun within the Showtime era, or possibly move to the Kobe-Shaq era of the 2000s remains to be seen as Pearlman does have a book covering that time as well.

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