To reference an iconic scene from the classic Adam McKay film, “Anchorman”...
Boy, that escalated quickly.
A week after Jerry West demanded an apology from HBO over his portrayal in their Showtime Lakers series, “Winning Time,” he doubled down in a statement to Bill Dwyre of The Los Angeles Times, noting that he was willing to take the matter all the way to the Supreme Court. Yes, really.
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.”
By effectively all accounts, the Lakers portrayed in this series haven’t been thrilled with the way they’ve been painted by the series. Despite that, HBO released its own statement on Tuesday afternoon in response to the critiques of the show, saying they stand by it.
“HBO has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes. ‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and has not been presented as such,” the company said in a statement to The Athletic on Tuesday.
“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.”
Last week, West was one of many associated with the Showtime Lakers that criticized the show. Magic Johnson called the show inaccurate — despite admitting to not watching it — and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cited inaccuracies about his own portrayal as well as criticisms of the show creatively as well.
Outside of the former Lakers, the show has been generally well-received. The key complaint about the series seems focused on the dramatization aspect of it, an odd stance to take against a show that is not a documentary. The depiction of West drew the most criticism early on, perhaps fueling his desire to take his demand for an apology to extreme lengths.
But, it’s, uh, hard to imagine the Supreme Court is going to have much interest in the matter, even if West and HBO were to attempt to appeal the results of a hypothetical lawsuit up to the highest court in the country. And HBO’s statement on Tuesday was anything but an apology. And so, the standoff between the two sides will continue, and doesn’t appear set to stop anytime soon.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.