“Winning Time’s” version of Jerry West is a missed shot, according to the Los Angeles Lakers legend himself.
The former player-turned-head coach-turned-general manager has demanded a retraction and public apology for his depiction in the HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” based on Jeff Pearlman’s book about the Showtime Lakers, calling it “a baseless and malicious assault” that “falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic” and “bears no resemblance to the real man.”
“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,” his lawyer, Skip Miller, said in a letter sent Tuesday night to HBO and producer Adam McKay and obtained by the Daily News.
“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.”
Attached to the letter were testimonials from friends and colleagues, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Claire Rothman, played in the show by Solomon Hughes and Gaby Hoffmann, respectively.
In “Winning Time,” West, played by Jason Clarke, is angry and often drunk, throwing trophies and golf clubs as he loses his tenuous grasp on the team. The real West also took particular fault with the show’s depiction of him and Magic Johnson, whose drafting he opposed.
“It shows Jerry launching into expletive-filled tirades about the decision to draft Magic, implying that Jerry had personal animus against Magic. Worse, the show implies that Jerry tried to sabotage the drafting of Magic Johnson,” the letter reads. “This never happened. All Jerry did was point out that Sidney Moncrief was a prolific scorer and that the Lakers should consider him. It was not Jerry’s decision who to draft. It was the owner (Jack Kent Cooke) who made the call.”
West’s lawyers have demanded a retraction within two weeks and an apology to West.
Neither representatives for HBO nor McKay immediately returned a request for comment from the Daily News Wednesday.
“Winning Time,” which airs Sunday nights on HBO, was recently renewed for a second season.