Jerry West is one of the greatest Los Angeles Lakers ever and was also a fine executive after his career. During his playing days, Jerry West was known for being a fantastic playmaker and shooter.
Recently, Jerry West's name has been mentioned in connection to "Winning Time" a drama series produced by the HBO network. The series is widely viewed as a dramatization of the rise of the Showtime Lakers.
Some view the portrayal of the characters in the series as extremely inaccurate. It seems as though Jerry West is among their number. Recently, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN revealed that Jerry West has "demanded a retraction and an apology" for the way he was portrayed in the show.
Former Los Angeles Lakers executive Jerry West demanded a retraction and an apology for what he called "a baseless and malicious assault" on his character in the HBO series "Winning Time," in a letter sent Tuesday evening by his legal team to the network and producer Adam McKay, which was obtained by ESPN.
West's lawyers allege that "Winning Time falsely and cruelly portrays Mr. West as an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic," saying that "bears no resemblance to the real man." They ask for a retraction no later than two weeks from the receipt of the letter.
"The portrayal of NBA icon and LA Lakers legend Jerry West in 'Winning Time' is fiction pretending to be fact -- a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family," said Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess LLP law firm in Los Angeles and attorney for West. "Contrary to the baseless portrayal in the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization, and in particular owner Dr. Jerry Buss, during an era in which he assembled one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
"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.
There is no doubt that others share the same view of the series. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been critical of the show as well, blasting the "bland characterization" of the people involved.
"I’ll start with the bland characterization. The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people the way Lego Hans Solo resembles Harrison Ford. Each character is reduced to a single bold trait as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension.
"Jerry Buss is Egomaniac Entrepreneur, Jerry West is Crazed Coach, Magic Johnson is Sexual Simpleton, I’m Pompous Prick. They are caricatures, not characters. Amusement park portraits that emphasize one physical feature to amplify your appearance—but never touching the essence.
"The result of using caricatures instead of fully developed characters is that the plot becomes frenetic melodrama, sensationalized invented moments to excite the senses but reveal nothing deeper. It’s as if he strung together a bunch of flashing colored lights and told us, 'This is the spirit of Christmas.'"
It remains to be seen if the network and the producer end up responding to Jerry West's demands. It's fair of Jerry West to demand an apology, as nobody wants their reputation to be tarnished.
The show "Winning Time" has drawn positive reviews, even though it exaggerates some of the events that happened. While a lot of fans may love it, it is clear that some of the players involved are far less happy about the show.