Jerry West’s legal team wants an apology and retraction for his portrayal in the Los Angeles Lakers-focused series Winning Time.
In a statement obtained by ESPN, which the outlet states was sent to HBO and producer Adam McKay, representatives for the former Los Angeles Lakers general manager criticized his depiction in the series as “a deliberately false characterization.” Jason Clarke plays West in the series centering on the Showtime era of the Lakers franchise during the 1980s.
“The portrayal of NBA icon and LA 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 the statement from attorney Skip Miller of law firm Miller Barondess, LLP. “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.”
The message continued, “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.”
HBO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This follows Kareem Abdul-Jabbar criticizing the series earlier Tuesday for “crude stick-figure” characters.
In a guest column for The Young Gazzate published last month, Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem criticized the series for its “cruel, dishonest and staggeringly insensitive” depiction of West.
During a recent interview with THR, Jason Segel, who plays former Lakers assistant coach Paul Westhead, said that the show “is not a docuseries” and, when asked about the pushback it has received, added, “I think the show is made with a ton of love.” Castmember Rob Morgan (Earvin Johnson Sr.) similarly told THR recently that the people behind the series “are not documentarians” and that he hoped viewers could “do their own research.”
More to come.