HBO released ‘Winning Time’ in March earlier this year, with the series depicting the rise of the dynastic Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s. The series became popular among fans for its entertainment value, but the people depicted in it weren’t too happy with how they were portrayed.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the first to blast the show as he was scathing in his criticism and Jerry West even took it a step further. He threatened to involve the Supreme Court as he claimed the show made them look like cartoon characters and he demanded a retraction to go with an apology.
HBO responded to it by defending its creators and stated that the series wasn’t a documentary and that it wasn’t being presented as one either. That hasn’t stopped the criticism though, especially from those who knew what the people who were being depicted were actually like. Shaquille O’Neal was the latest to voice his displeasure with it, during an interview with USA Today.
via USA Today:
Q: You’ve criticized HBO’s “Winning Time” for an exaggerated depiction of Los Angeles Lakers former star and general manager Jerry West. Any other show critiques?
Shaq: This was before my time, but that depiction of Jerry West was despicable. He’s not that guy. Jerry West was a fine general manager, always did right by me. All the other stuff I thought was cool. As a fan, and someone who watches TV, the cinematography and action were great. It’s shot very well. But not the way they treated Mr. West.
West is known to be a very nice man and almost no one among NBA circles has had anything negative to say about the way he was or the way he treated people. Shaq knows him very well too, with West being the Lakers’ GM for O’Neal’s first 4 years with the franchise.
While it is all fine and good to try to make the series as entertaining as possible, considering it was showing actual human beings and not fictional characters, they should have resembled their original personalities. By all indications, that is not the case here which is why so many people came out strongly against it.