The former Los Angeles Lakers player and executive has demanded a retraction and an apology from HBO, arguing that the series showcases him as an “out-of-control, intoxicated rage-a-holic,” according to ESPN.
West’s attorney sent a letter to HBO and producer Adam McKay on Tuesday night calling the show’s representation of him a “baseless” and “malicious” assault. The letter, which was obtained by ESPN, asks for a retraction in addition to a public apology.
“The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. Lakers legend Jerry West in ‘Winning Time’ is fiction pretending to be fact — a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family,” said Skip Miller, an attorney representing West.
“Winning Time” depicts the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty in the late 1970s and early 1980s. West served as the team’s head coach and general manager during that era. Under West’s reign, Los Angeles won six championship rings.
“Jerry West was an integral part of the Lakers and NBA’s success. It is a travesty that HBO has knowingly demeaned him for shock value and the pursuit of ratings. As an act of common decency, HBO and the producers owe Jerry a public apology and at the very least should retract their baseless and defamatory portrayal of him,” said Miller.
According to West’s lawyers, HBO’s disclaimer that the series is a dramatization does not exclude the network from liability.
West left the Lakers to manage the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002 and has since moved on to work for the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.