Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Pans HBO Series as 'Drearily Dull'

The former Lakers star says 'Winning Time' is 'deliberately dishonest'
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2022 11:52 AM CDT
Abdul-Jabbar Pans HBO Series, Jerry West Wants a Retraction
This Jan. 24, 2017, file photo, shows former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during a sports and activism panel entitled "From Protest to Progress: Next Steps" in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar slammed the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty for being both "deliberately dishonest" and "drearily dull." The review appeared on the Lakers legend's personal website Tuesday, per Variety. The series is described by HBO as "go[ing] back in time to chronicle the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of sports' most revered and dominant dynasties." And it has Abdul-Jabbar wondering if executive producer Adam McKay has lost his touch, saying the series "suffers from ... shallowness and lazy writing." Abdul-Jabbar is especially critical of the portrayal of Lakers exec Jerry West.

"Instead of exploring [West’s mental health] issues with compassion as a way to better understand the man, they turn him into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to be laughed at," writes Abdul-Jabbar. "Sure, those actions make dramatic moments, but they reek of facile exploitation of the man rather than exploration of character." West and his family did not take kindly to the portrayal either. West's lawyer, Skip Miller, tells ESPN that it's "fiction pretending to be fact—a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family. Contrary to the baseless portrayal in the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization." The letter demands a retraction and apology within two weeks.

In a separate report, Variety says the show is still gaining viewership; a series-high 1.4 million viewers tuned in Sunday for Episode 7. Winning Time also scores very positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes (84%) and IMDB (8.4/10); Metacritic says reviews are "generally favorable," with a score of 68. But some reviewers also picked up on the "dull" theme. Guardian columnist Rebecca Nicholson referred to it as "sluggish," and Washington Post reviewer Inkoo Kang pans McKay’s "exhausting style" and laments that viewers’ attention is often "diverted to trivia and gratuitous digressions." (More Los Angeles Lakers stories.)

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