Jerry West does not care how many people love his character on ‘Winning Time,’ he does not like it and wants something to be done about it.
Seven weeks after Winning Time debuted in early March, former Los Angeles Lakers coach and general manager Jerry West fired off a legal letter. Last week, he demanded a retraction and an apology for what he called “a baseless and malicious assault” on his character in the HBO series “Winning Time,” in a letter sent Tuesday evening by his legal team to the network and producer Adam McKay.
West’s lawyers allege that “Winning Time falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic,” saying that “bears no resemblance to the real man.” They ask for a retraction no later than two weeks from the receipt of the letter.
“The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. Lakers legend Jerry West in ‘Winning Time’ is fiction pretending to be fact — a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family,” said Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess LLP law firm in Los Angeles and attorney for West. “Contrary to the baseless portrayal in the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization, and in particular owner Dr. Jerry Buss, during an era in which he assembled one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
“Jerry West was an integral part of the Lakers and NBA’s success. It is a travesty that HBO has knowingly demeaned him for shock value and the pursuit of ratings. As an act of common decency, HBO and the producers owe Jerry a public apology and at the very least should retract their baseless and defamatory portrayal of him.”
This week, West told former editor Bill Dwyre that he wants to take the show’s creators to the Supreme Court.
“The series made us all [the Lakers] look like cartoon characters,” West told Dwyre. “They belittled something good. If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”
After his latest comments, HBO decided to respond with a statement of its own.
“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes,” the statement read.
“‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and has not been presented as such. However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”
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