Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

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Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty
Season 1 title card
Also known asWinning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty II (s. 2)
Genre
Created by
Based onShowtime
by Jeff Pearlman
Starring
Music by
Opening theme"My Favorite Mutiny"
by The Coup
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes17
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Doug Ornstein
  • Bruce Dunn
Cinematography
Editors
  • Hank Corwin
  • Jeremy Weinstein
  • Jessica Hernández
  • Max Koepke
  • Felicia M. Livingston
  • Juliana Rodzinski
Running time54–59 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkHBO
ReleaseMarch 6, 2022 (2022-03-06) –
September 17, 2023 (2023-09-17)

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is an American sports drama television series created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht for HBO, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman. The first season, comprising 10 episodes, chronicles the 1980s Showtime era of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team (beginning in late 1979), featuring notable NBA stars Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It features an ensemble cast led by John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Jason Segel, Gaby Hoffmann, Rob Morgan, and Adrien Brody. The series premiered on March 6, 2022, with the pilot episode directed by Adam McKay. In April 2022, the series was renewed for a second season,[1] which premiered on August 6, 2023.[2] On September 17, 2023, it was announced that the series was canceled after 2 seasons.[3][4]

Although HBO has reinforced that the series is a dramatization, the series has been strongly criticized by several former NBA players and basketball historians over what they allege are significant factual inaccuracies within the storylines.[5][6][7]

Premise

The series is a dramatization of the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers basketball teams. The first season focuses on the 1979–1980 NBA season, Jerry Buss' first as owner and Magic Johnson's rookie year. The second season takes place between 1980 and 1984.[8]

Cast

Main

Recurring

Episodes

Series overview

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110March 6, 2022 (2022-03-06)May 8, 2022 (2022-05-08)
27August 6, 2023 (2023-08-06)September 17, 2023 (2023-09-17)

Season 1 (2022)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
11"The Swan"Adam McKayStory by : Max Borenstein & Jim Hecht
Teleplay by : Max Borenstein
March 6, 2022 (2022-03-06)0.256[37]
22"Is That All There Is?"Jonah HillRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinMarch 13, 2022 (2022-03-13)0.337[38]
33"The Good Life"Damian MarcanoMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Jim HechtMarch 20, 2022 (2022-03-20)0.250[39]
44"Who the F**k Is Jack McKinney?"Damian MarcanoMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Jim HechtMarch 27, 2022 (2022-03-27)0.314[40]
55"Pieces of a Man"Tanya HamiltonRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinApril 3, 2022 (2022-04-03)0.330[41]
66"Memento Mori"Tanya HamiltonMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Rebecca BertuchApril 10, 2022 (2022-04-10)0.372[42]
77"Invisible Man"Payman BenzRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinApril 17, 2022 (2022-04-17)0.460[43]
88"California Dreaming"Payman BenzRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinApril 24, 2022 (2022-04-24)0.410[44]
99"Acceptable Loss"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinMay 1, 2022 (2022-05-01)0.503[45]
1010"Promised Land"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldRodney Barnes & Max BorensteinMay 8, 2022 (2022-05-08)0.535[46]

Season 2 (2023)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
111"One Ring Don't Make a Dynasty"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldMax Borenstein & Rodney BarnesAugust 6, 2023 (2023-08-06)0.175[47]
122"The Magic Is Back"Trey Edward ShultsMax Borenstein & Rodney BarnesAugust 13, 2023 (2023-08-13)0.198[48]
133"The Second Coming"Todd BanhazlMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Rebecca BertuchAugust 20, 2023 (2023-08-20)0.225[49]
144"The New World"Tanya HamiltonMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Jim HechtAugust 27, 2023 (2023-08-27)0.281[50]
155"The Hamburger Hamlet"Tanya HamiltonMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes and Jim HechtSeptember 3, 2023 (2023-09-03)0.204[51]
166"BEAT L.A."Salli Richardson-WhitfieldMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Jim HechtSeptember 10, 2023 (2023-09-10)0.274[52]
177"What Is and What Should Never Be"Salli Richardson-WhitfieldMax Borenstein & Rodney Barnes & Jim HechtSeptember 17, 2023 (2023-09-17)0.315[53]

Production

Development

On April 20, 2014, screenwriter Jim Hecht flew across the country to the home of sportswriter Jeff Pearlman. He pitched an adaptation of Pearlman's best-seller Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty that would be similar to the TV show Friday Night Lights. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hecht brought Pearlman a bottle of nonalcoholic wine, a block of chocolate, and a tomato as an offering to convince Pearlman to sell him the rights to the book. "I had no money, so if he'd been like, '$30,000,' I would've been screwed," Hecht recalled. Pearlman, who had optioned several of his books where "nothing ever happened", agreed to let Hecht shop his book around town for a year. In 2015, producer Kevin Messick convinced Adam McKay to direct the pilot and produce.[54]

In April 2019, HBO ordered a pilot of the series, which was written by Max Borenstein with a story by Borenstein and Hecht.[55] The series was initially referred to by the working title Showtime, after Pearlman's book and the Lakers era that inspired it.[55] By that summer, the series was described as being untitled, with HBO executive Casey Bloys later acknowledging that the title would have caused marketplace confusion given that one of HBO's direct premium TV and streaming competitors is also named Showtime.[56] In December, HBO officially greenlit a series order.[17] On December 8, 2021, HBO announced that the series would be titled Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty; according to Bloys, "Winning Time" is a phrase that was already associated with Magic Johnson.[56][57]

On April 7, 2022, HBO renewed the series for a second season.[1][58] In July 2022, it was announced that Salli Richardson-Whitfield would, in addition to directing, join the second season as executive producer.[59]

Casting

Francine Maisler is the show's casting director.[54] In August 2019, Jason Clarke and Michael Shannon were cast to portray Jerry West and Jerry Buss respectively.[11][60] However, the next month Shannon would exit due to creative differences, and Buss would be recast with John C. Reilly.[9] Shannon reportedly did not like the fourth wall breaking format of the show and found it difficult to work with.[54] Frequent McKay collaborator Will Ferrell had actively pursued the role of Buss since McKay had first started developing the series; however, McKay did not feel he was right for the role and instead cast Reilly without telling Ferrell. Upon learning of the decision via a phone call from Reilly, Ferrell was so infuriated that he ended his friendship and professional relationship with McKay.[61] Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes were additionally cast to play Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar after an extensive casting search.[10][54] DeVaughn Nixon was added to the cast to portray his father, Norm Nixon.[16]

By March 2021, additional castings including Adrien Brody,[12] Sally Field,[22] Michael Chiklis,[26] Bo Burnham,[28] Jason Segel,[15] Sarah Ramos,[19] Brett Cullen, and Lola Kirke were announced.[20] In May 2021, Rory Cochrane, Danny Burstein, Austin Aaron, Ta'Nika Gibson, Edwin Hodge, Terence Davis, and Ja'Quan Cole joined the cast.[21] In June 2021, Mike Epps, Max E. Williams, Carina Conti and Mariama Diallo joined the cast.[35] In August 2021, Burnham exited the project due to scheduling conflicts while Sean Patrick Small, Rachel Hilson, Olli Haaskivi, Newton Mayenge, and Jon Young joined the cast, with Small replacing Burnham.[62][63] Thomas Mann was confirmed, in June 2022, to have been promoted to a series regular for season two.[24] In June 2023, it was announced that McCabe Slye was promoted as a series regular for the second season.[25]

Filming

Principal photography for the first season began in Los Angeles on April 12, 2021, and concluded on October 31.[64] It was confirmed that production on the second season started on August 24, 2022.[65]

Release

Alongside the title announcement in December 2021, HBO announced the series would debut in March 2022,[57] with the premiere date subsequently set for Sunday, March 6 and aired an episode weekly, concluding the season on May 8, 2022.[66]

Home media

The first season was released on October 4, 2022, on Blu-ray and DVD.[67]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an 85% approval rating based on 61 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Gleefully excessive in both form and function, Winning Time pairs a larger-than-life roster of characters with whiplash style to deliver an absolute slam dunk."[68] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 29 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[69]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds an 83% approval rating based on 18 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Trying to defend the title is hard, but Winning Time's sophomore season keeps pace as some of the best courtside seats to sports history that television can provide."[70] On Metacritic, the second season has a score of 68 out of 100, based on 13 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[71]

Reactions from Lakers

The series received criticism from Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for historical inaccuracies. Johnson said he would not watch the series because it never depicted the Showtime era accurately,[72][73] while Abdul-Jabbar referred to the series as deliberately dishonest.[74][75] On April 19, 2022, Jerry West demanded a retraction from HBO within two weeks for the "cruel" and "deliberately false" depiction of him as a temperamental, foul-mouthed executive prone to angry outbursts and mood swings.[76][77][78] A week later, HBO responded to West with the following statement: "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. 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."[79] West, who died June 12, 2024, pursued legal action against HBO for defamation, even if he has to "take this all the way to the Supreme Court."[80] Spencer Haywood, on the other hand, called his portrayal on the series a blessing.[81]

Accolades

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2022
Black Reel Awards for Television Outstanding Drama Series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Nominated [82]
Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama Series Wood Harris Won
Outstanding Directing, Drama Series Tanya Hamilton (for "Pieces of a Man") Nominated
Outstanding Writing, Drama Series Rodney Barnes and Max Borenstein (for "Acceptable Loss") Nominated
Outstanding Musical Score Nicholas Britell and Robert Glasper Nominated
California on Location Awards Location Manager of the Year – Episodic Television – One Hour Gregory Alpert Nominated [83]
[84]
Location Team of the Year – Episodic Television – One Hour Gregory Alpert, J.P. O'Connor, Matt Bolin, Tom Potier, Sam Gomez, Harry Middleton, Shelly Armstrong, Miles Beal-Ampah, Andre Balderamos, Anthony Balderamos, Helena Cho, Monica Cohen, Julian Stephens, Whitney Breite, and Willis Turner Nominated
Assistant Location Manager of the Year – Television Matt Bolin Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Cable Network Series, Drama Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Nominated [85]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Todd Banhazl (for "Pieces of a Man") Nominated [86]
Set Decorators Society of America Awards Best Achievement in Décor/Design of a One Hour Period Series Jon Bush Richard Toyon, and Clayton Hartley Nominated [87]
2023
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama or Genre John C. Reilly Nominated [88]
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, Limited Series or Television Film Sally Field Nominated
Best Ensemble – Television Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Won
2024
Critics' Choice Awards Best Drama Series Nominated [89]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Raymond McIntyre Jr., Victor DiMichina, Javier Menéndez Platas, Damien Stantina
(for BEAT LA)
Won [90]

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