The Lakers won five championships in the 1980s, but there will be no three-peat for the HBO series devoted to that run, “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” with the network bringing showtime to an end after two seasons.
HBO confirmed that the show’s second-season finale, which premiered September 17, would serve as the series finale, adding a closing crawl that provided additional context about key players and front-office personnel, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. (Like CNN, HBO is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.)
Ratings for the show have dropped in the seven-episode second season, which has covered multiple years in focusing on the Lakers’ rivalry with the Boston Celtics. Until recently the author of the book on which the show is based, Jeff Pearlman, has been using social media to lobby for a third season, expressing hope that it was still a possibility while citing ratings as a concern.
“Winning Time” triggered some controversy with its first season, with Abdul-Jabbar and West both criticizing the program’s accuracy. West sought a retraction and apology through his attorney, and Abdul-Jabbar called the show “dishonest” and said the portrayals amounted to “crude stick-figure representations” of the actual people involved.
HBO defended the series, saying it was extensively researched, while noting that there is ample precedent in terms of fact-based programs being “fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes.”
“Winning Time” featured a large ensemble cast, with John C. Reilly as Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Quincy Isaiah as Johnson, Adrien Brody as former coach Pat Riley, and Solomon Hughes as Abdul-Jabbar. The first season received a single Emmy nomination, for cinematography.
HBO recently canceled another high-profile drama, “The Idol,” after one season.