Lakers’ “Winning Time” abruptly ends with Celtics celebration

HBO’s ‘Winning Time’ was meant to be a straight up blockbuster as the show portrayed the screen adaptation of one of the most glorious periods in the LA Lakers history.

Unfortunately for the producers, things didn’t quite go as they expected and the show started losing viewership over time into the second season. It seems fans may have seen the end of the project with the season finale marking the untimely denouement of the saga.

Lakers docudrama “Winning Time” gets cancelled

On Sunday night, HBO announced that the last episode of season 2 would serve as the series finale for ‘Winning Time’. The docudrama concludes its two-season run with the Showtime Lakers journey of winning only two titles out of their eventual five.

Despite its rich and glamorous subject matter, the series failed to gather a large enough audience for a renewal, partly due to the show’s shortcomings and partly because of bad timing.

However, in the Season 2 finale of HBO’s Winning Time (The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty), Celtics coach Red Auerbach gets the last laugh. Surrounded by cigar smoke and champagne showers, Red holds the newly won Larry O’Brien Trophy, looks directly into the camera, and into the very soul of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, declaring, “Leave the dynasties to us.”


‘Winning Time’ ends with the Celtics adding another championship banner to the Boston Garden rafters and the emergence of “Tragic” Johnson.

One of the most memorable scenes from ‘Winning Time’ will be a defeated Magic Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) sitting on the shower floor of the locker room after the Celtics’ loss to Larry Bird and the team in the 1984 NBA Finals.

Negative response from real-life stars

‘Winning Time’ enjoyed a two-sided coin of reviews from critics. Jerry West, whose character was portrayed by Jason Clarke, took the step of sending a letter through his legal team to HBO and producer Adam McKay, demanding a “retraction and an apology,” as reported by ESPN. The letter alleges that ‘Winning Time’ falsely and unfairly depicts Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated individual and “bears no resemblance to the real man.”


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whose character was played by Solomon Hughes, conveyed his lack of interest in the show through a blog post on Substack. He stated that his aversion to it is not rooted in inaccurate portrayals but in the “shallowness and lazy writing” of the series. He criticized the characterizations and plot, noting that the humor in the show falls “flat.”

Magic Johnson also disclosed his disinterest in the HBO series. During an interview with Variety, Johnson remarked, “First of all, you can’t tell a Lakers story without the Lakers themselves. The real Lakers. You need the actual guys. There’s no way to replicate Showtime, no matter who you cast.” He further mentioned that the show did not reach out to him or his teammates for involvement in the series.

The list goes on as the Lakers front-office legend Claire Rothman revealed that she declined participation because Jeanie Buss did not approve of the show.

Share your thoughts on what you think about the show in the comment section.

SZ Desk

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