Former NBA player and Los Angeles Lakers icon Jerry West believes the HBO series "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" shows a "deliberately false characterization” and a “baseless portrayal" of him.
The hall of famer, along with his legal team, issued a letter to the show's producer Adam McKay. The letter was obtained by ESPN. West's attorneys claimed the show “caused great distress to Jerry and his family." He's calling for a retraction within the next two weeks, as well as a public apology.
West, who is played by actor Jason Clarke, is depicted as an unhinged and irate executive searching for ways to redeem himself after multiple losses in the NBA Finals throughout his career.
One of the attorneys, Skip Miller, insinuated that the series is just trying to garner views.
“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,” Miller said.
Claire Rothman, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Mitch Kupchak have each spoken out on the matter. Rothman saw West as a person who treated her with "dignity and respect." Abdul-Jabbar vouched for West as he gave his own critique on the way the series portrayed him.
"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,” Abdul-Jabbar said.
According to Miller, West had "nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization and, in particular, owner Dr. Jerry Buss." However, the series insinuates that the two did not get along.
HBO has yet to comment.