Magic Johnson Comes To Jerry West’s Defense Over HBO Series ‘Winning Time’

Hall of Famer Magic Johnson came to the defense of fellow legend Jerry West and how West is portrayed in the HBO series “Winning Time,” loosely based on the 1980s Showtime-era Lakers.Magic Johnson

West has demanded a retraction and an apology through his legal team for “a baseless and malicious assault” on his character in the show.

Johnson, for one, listed all of the reasons West should be appreciated, citing a column from LA Times writer Bill Plaschke entitled, “HBO’s ‘Winning Time’ gets Jerry West all wrong.”

Johnson said the column spoke volumes.

“Bill Plaschke wrote an outstanding article in the LA Times about Jerry West and his contribution to the Lakers and Los Angeles,” Johnson tweeted. “He means so much to the Lakers organization, with a resume that includes winning a championship as a Lakers player, leading my Showtime Lakers to 5 NBA Championships, trading for Kobe, & working with Dr. Buss to bring Shaq to LA. Jerry helped develop us on the court as basketball players & off the court as men, a reason he remains close to a lot of former Lakers today, including me. The article is a must read!”

Fellow Lakers center also blasted “Winning Time” in his email newsletter, saying the series has been bogged down by lazy writing.

“The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people the way Lego Hans Solo resembles Harrison Ford,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension. Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick.”

No matter, Winning Time has been picked up for a second season. 

The series stars John C. Reilly as Buss, Quincy Isaiah as Johnson and Hadley Robinson as current owner Jeannie Buss. It has received some criticism around the NBA for its harsh portrayal of West, played by Jason Clarke. Abdul-Jabbar is played by Solomon Hughes.

The series is based on Jeff Pearlman’s excellent book entitled, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. So far, the series has focused solely on the 1979-80 season.

“One major difference here is that most the people being portrayed are still alive, still have a legacy that is important to them. I may have made up words and actions for Queen Victoria, but I didn’t denigrate her,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote.

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