Last week, I was asked for a retract and an apology from former. Los Angeles LakersHBO released a statement Tuesday in defense of “Winning Time,” claiming that its “dramatization” was “based on extensive factual research” and reliable sourcing.
West's lawyers alleged last week that Winning Time “falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West, an out-of control, intoxicated anger-aholic,” adding that it “bears no resemblance with the real man.” ESPN obtained the April 19 letter from Adam McKay to HBO and Series Producer. West's lawyers asked for a retractionwithin two weeks of receipt.
HBO responded Tuesday with a statement initially given to The Hollywood ReporterESPN later acquired the rights to it.
The network stated that HBO has a history of producing compelling content from actual facts and events. This statement was made by the network. “Winning Time” is not considered a documentary and has not yet been made available as such. The series and the depictions of it are based on extensive factual research. HBO stands behind the talented creators and cast that have brought this dramatic chapter in basketball history onto the screen.
West's lawyers claimed that HBO's disclaimer regarding the series' dramatization does nothing to protect it from liability.
This series has been airing this spring on HBO on Sunday nights. It is based upon Jeff Pearlman's book, “Showtime”: Magic, Karem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty in the 1980s.
West's lawyers claimed that the series creators acted in “legal malice” as many scenes depicting West's anger did not appear in Pearlman’s book. Former players Karem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper, along with statements from Lakers employees Charlene Kenney and Bob Steiner, who denied ever seeing West do any of the rage-filled actions or consume alcohol in the office during the period covered by the series, are included in the letter.
Abdul-Jabbar stated in a statement that instead of looking at his problems with compassion to help him understand them, they make him into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon for everyone to laugh at.” He didn't break golf clubs and he didn’t throw his trophy out the window. These actions are dramatic, but they don't reflect an exploration of character or exploitation of man.
West's lawyers claimed that he is entitled to a retraction and an apology from HBO and its producers. This was because the show “goes out of its way” to disparage Jerry West, despite his achievements as an executive.
Ramona Shelburne from ESPN contributed to this report.