Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers were delighted when the first trailer for the HBO series about the team titled Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty was released this week. The series will focus on the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s and features portrayals of legendary members of the franchise like Jerry Buss, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others. Though LeBron James has only been with the team for a few years, he’s excited to see the series.
He reacted to the trailer and was blown away.
The series is produced by Adam McKay of The Big Short and Vice fame and will be released in March of 2022. While fans widely praised the trailer, it’s not without its controversy. In fact, the Lakers front office may be having a conversation with LeBron soon about his decision to tweet about the series.
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Lakers Brass Not Happy With Show
The reason the Lakers may not want LeBron tweeting about the series is due to the fact that they are apparently not very happy with it. Matthew Belloni of Puck recently dropped a report on the show and revealed that the iconic franchise wants nothing to do with, including some of the players who are being portrayed.
“And it’s absolutely true that the Buss family, the Lakers leadership, its 80s-era players, and the NBA in general all absolutely hate this show,” Belloni wrote.
Much of the Lakers’ distaste for the show stems not only from the money involved but also from how the late Jerry Buss is portrayed. Belloni detailed this in his report:
None of those people are making any money off this, which might explain some displeasure—and the fact that Jeanie Buss, Jerry’s daughter and the team’s controlling owner, has set up her own behind-the-scenes Lakers project with Mindy Kaling at Netflix. But they also feel HBO and McKay have taken real people and turned them into a fictionalized ‘80s version of Entourage or Ballers. According to someone who’s seen the pilot, it’s raunchy, filled with drugs and womanizing, and it is said to portray Buss as a misogynist party boy. (Reilly may or may not wear a prosthetic penis to accentuate Buss’s “bulge”; one person told me that, but I didn’t confirm it, and I didn’t really want to spend my time that way.)
Buss is a revered figure in the Lakers fan base as he’s responsible for much of their winning ways over the last several decades and his family still runs the team. Portraying him in a negative light could ruffle a lot of feathers.
Abdul Jabbar Believes This Isn’t Best Way to Tell Lakers Story
This report from Belloni would explain the lack of reaction online from former Lakers players, the NBA or the team itself. He believes that the league will simply ignore the series to avoid giving it free publicity. However, Abdul-Jabbar decided to offer his thoughts. He wasn’t ready to tear down the series too much, but he doesn’t think this is the best way to go about telling the story of his former team.
“While I respect other artists’ rights to choose their subjects, I think the story of the Showtime Lakers is best told by those who actually lived through it because we know exactly what happened,” Abdul-Jabbar told Belloni.
Abdul-Jabbar’s longtime manager Deborah Morales was much harsher towards the show.
“When the guy they cast to play Kareem got the part, he was super excited and reached out to me,” Morales texted Belloni. “I don’t think that he realized the response that he was going to get, which was not very nice!”
Morales believes the series will face backlash.
“I don’t think anybody who has accepted a part playing any of these characters will be embraced by anyone in the NBA or any of the players or any of their friends—and I certainly hope that I never bump into anyone associated with this show.”
This backlash won’t stop HBO from airing the series but it’ll be interesting to see how the people involved with the Showtime Lakers react once it finally comes out.