It’s been a few days since it was announced that ‘Winning Time’, a HBO’s show about the Showtime Lakers in the 1980’s was cancelled. There hasn’t been hardly any shows that dramatize real life sports and all of the behind the scenes stuff that everyone kind of already knew about the Showtime Lakers. ‘Winning Time’ was exactly what it needed to be and after two short seasons, it’s finished. HBO cancelling ‘Winning Time’ was like a shot to my heart.
While I’ve watched a number of documentaries, and read a handful of books about the Showtime Lakers, or the Magic/Bird rivalry, it never fully scratched my itch. This show provided the best scratch I could have ever gotten from that era of basketball. While the show didn’t really provide new information, and overly dramatized certain people like Jerry West, it did provide entertainment.
John C. Reilly was an immaculate choice to play Dr. Jerry Buss, and every week I was hoping there would be more scenes with him in it. Quincy Isaiah could not have been a more perfect answer to who should play Magic Johnson. Solomon Hughes portrayed Kareem Abdul-Jabar better than anyone could have ever imagined. And Adrien Brody was awesome as Pat Riley and arguably my favorite character in the show.
Of course HBO had an incredible budget and was able to snag all of these great actors to portray this era of Lakers basketball. Unfortunately it didn’t get enough views throughout air time. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that HBO put this show on during the dead months of summer time where most people are out and about, or if there’s just not enough interest in the Showtime Lakers era to get people to watch it.
A hiccup that I thought was missed in the show writing was not including David Stern more in the series. With Magic and Bird, Stern was probably one of the most important figures that helped save the NBA at the time. We barely see him in season one, and I don’t even remember getting and Stern moments in season two.
There was so much meat left on this bone. All of the Lakers/Celtics rivalry, the Dream Team going to the Olympics, you could have even gotten into the Shaq and Kobe Lakers. Or this could have been a four season show, and called it quits in the early 90’s and I would have been satisfied.
It’s a shame that HBO cancelling ‘Winning Time’ happened because I’m not entirely sure what the marquee HBO show is now. ‘Succession’ isn’t walking through that door, and the ‘Game of Thrones’ ending was botched to shreds. While I don’t think ‘Winning Time’ would be on either of those shows’ level, I do think it was an incredibly solid show to have on Sunday nights during the summer.
I’m not even sure there’s another sports team or era that script writers could delve into that would have the same effect as ‘Winning Time.’ When you really think about it there may be only one or two other teams that would work in a dramatization of a sports team. The 1980’s-early 2000’s Miami Hurricanes, and the 1990’s Dallas Cowboys would absolutely work in this scenario.
I loved ‘Winning Time’, and I’m not sure it’s because I love the NBA, or because it was the best show on television when it was airing. HBO cancelling ‘Winning Time’ was like a shot to my heart, and what I believe is a huge mistake on their part. Maybe Showtime will pick it up where it left off and call it ‘Showtime.’