To say expectations are high for the upcoming HBO series Winning Time is an understatement. Set to portray one of the most iconic periods of both Lakers basketball and the NBA in general, the bar is set remarkably high before an episode has even premiered.
Despite that, a recent piece by Lacey Rose of The Hollywood Reporter portrayed an air of confidence from those associated with the series. While the Lakers, NBA and players portrayed have had no contact or input on the project, the belief within HBO seems to be that this series will be wildly successful, so much so they’re planning for a future that isn’t even guaranteed yet.
The writers have begun writing for a second season that hasn’t been ordered yet, and HBO has picked up the option the book author Jeff Pearlman — whose book Showtime is the basis for Winning Time — wrote about the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant Lakers teams, entitled Three Ring Circus:
In the meantime, the writers are back in the room plotting out season two, which hasn’t been given a formal green light, but one seems likely to come soon. What initially was envisioned to conclude with Magic’s HIV announcement in 1991 now seems open-ended. “If the stories are there and the different eras are there, why not keep exploring it?” says Bloys, whose network has quietly optioned Pearlman’s follow-up, which takes readers through the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal era of the Lakers.
As the article itself describes, optioning a book is far from a guarantee that a series will be made. There are still lots of t’s to be crossed and i’s to be dotted, ranging from finding a director or producer to actors and actresses.
Them picking up the option could be a formality, a low-risk move that could have a big payoff depending on the success of Winning Time. But if the series writers are already planning an end date for the original show, a spin-off fast-forwarding to the late 2000s doesn’t seem implausible.
Especially when considering there have also fewer more dramatic, made-for-TV teams and feuds than the one from Shaq and Kobe. At times, it felt like a soap opera with how the two would quarrel and fight and still dominate teams in the process. There won’t be much need for dramatizing what was actually going on with the Lakers during those times, and Pearlman’s book covered it all well, from Bryant’s infamous playoff airballs in Utah, to Pat Riley nearly returning to Los Angeles to coach those teams, and everything in between.
Will a show be made? It is by no means a certainty. But the fact it could happen sure is fun to think about. A clearer picture might start to be made once Winning Time debuts there is more reaction to that, which means March 6 can’t come soon enough.