When Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty was announced, there was a lot of fanfare and excitement over HBO’s dramatization of Jeff Pearlman’s book, Showtime, starring John C. Reilly. However, for the most part the show has gotten a fairly tepid response from basketball fans, in part due to it premiering in the midst of the NBA Playoffs, pitting the show about basketball up against real, live basketball when it airs live.
While it hasn’t registered as HBO may have hoped with basketball fans, one of the best things going for the show is how mad it has made everyone it is about. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and just about every other former Laker has denounced the show’s depiction of the team, but no one has been madder about it than Jerry West. Seemingly every day there is a new quote from West ripping the show for making him into a cartoonishly angry man — and, in fairness, the first few episodes do really make him seem like an insane person — but even as his character on the show has grown and become more of a human being, West won’t let it go.
The latest comes from the Los Angeles Times, which reports West telling former editor Bill Dwyre that he wants to take the show’s creators to the Supreme Court (!!!) for their crimes of…belittling the Showtime Lakers?
“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.”
Listen, I understand why Jerry West is mad, but it’s hard to stress how much worse he makes it when he offers up quotes like this. This is a show that seems to have a fairly modest following and, in time, figured to get swallowed up by whatever was the next big thing. This isn’t a The Last Dance situation where it was a cultural moment and would create lasting memes we’d be referencing years later, but every time West gets mad and makes a headline about the show, it only makes more people want to tune in to see why exactly this man is so mad.
My advice to West is this, just let it go as hard as it may be. You’re only going to make people buy into the caricature more by getting extremely mad about being shown as a guy who gets extremely mad all the time.