HBO's 'Winning Time' series landed 1.4 million viewers on Sunday, marking the third straight week that the show reached an All-Time high.
Despite the encouraging numbers, HBO has a bit of a problem on its hands regarding its portrayal of certain characters on the show.
In a conversation with LA Times sports editor Bill Dwyre, Lakers legend Jerry West is outraged over the project and could take legal action if HBO continues its trajectory.
Although the letter seemed to suggest some legal action might take place if those demands aren’t met, West apparently confirmed that to be his intention during his discussion with Dwyre.
“The series made us all [the Lakers] look like cartoon characters,” West told Dwyre. “They belittled something good. If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”
HBO has indicated it has no intention of honoring West’s demands.
“‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and has not been presented as such,” HBO said Tuesday in a statement. “However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”
This is not the first time West has addressed his portrayal in 'Winning Time.' Earlier this month, his lawyers sent a letter demanding an apology from HBO.
"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.
It's important to clarify that 'Winning Time' is not a documentary. It's a dramatization based on the 'Showtime' Lakers era of the 1980s.
Back then, West was a Lakers executive who helped lead and manage one of the most successful stretches by any team in NBA history. In the show, however, they have West as a complicated and anger-driven man who frequently resorts to alcohol to calm his nerves.
It's obviously not a depiction that the Lakers legend appreciates, but it remains to be seen if HBO or anyone involved with the show itself will make any changes to the character.