We’ve been watching HBO’s series Winning Time, about the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers around the time Jerry Buss bought the franchise and when Magic Johnson transformed it.
It’s an entertaining series and we’ve enjoyed it.
In fact, the legendary Laker, aka The Logo, is furious and demanding a retraction and an apology. His attorney says this: “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...Your extreme departure from the book shows malice in your false portrayal.”
That last sentence is reasonably interpreted as a threat.
And he’s not the only one upset. Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar came to his defense, saying this: “Instead of exploring his issues with compassion as a way to better understand the man, they turn him into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to be laughed at. He never broke golf clubs, he didn’t throw his trophy through the window. Sure, those actions make dramatic moments, but they reek of facile exploitation of the man rather than exploration of character.”
West has never really hidden his deeply competitive nature or how it killed him to regularly get to the Finals only to lose to Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics. It’s become clear over the years that the man has had some struggles, notably with depression and, let’s say, a certain level of emotional instability/volatility.
Could he win a case? Depends. The disclaimer HBO runs says it’s a dramatization and it’s possible that that could immunize the network.
We would say this though: anyone who underestimates West’s determination is a fool.