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Erik Swann

Winning Time Author Sends Out Plea, 'Begs Viewers' To Watch HBO Show Amidst Worries It’ll Be Canceled

Quincy Isaiah on Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty returned to the airwaves just a few weeks ago for its second season on HBO. The dramedy series is an account of the NBA team’s dominance during the ‘80s and depicts the players, coaches and exces who contributed to that success. So far, the new season seems to have received mostly positive reviews from critics, and fans have chatted it up on social media. However, it would appear that at least one person connected to the production is concerned about its future. Jeff Perlman – who wrote the book that inspired the show – made a serious plea, begging viewers to tune in so that the program doesn’t get canceled. 

Jeff Perlman’s book is Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, which became a bestseller upon its release in 2014. Since the TV adaptation’s debut in 2022, the author and sports writer has hyped up the show in a myriad of ways. So it should come as no surprise that he’d be concerned about it possibly being axed. Pearlman has taken to X on multiple occasions over the past few days to appeal to both regular viewers and those who haven’t tuned in yet. In one post, he implored folks to watch and mentioned that the strikes had been “crippling” for the sports dramedy. A more recent message, however, saw Pearlman emphasizing just why he’s been so vocal

Wanna add: There's a lot of ‘author begs viewers to watch show.’ Fair. But I'm NOT begging for me. I'm begging because this saga is not complete, and needs to continue. For the actors, the crew, the storyline. Plus, no fucking way can a Lakers show end in 1984.

So it would seem that his concern is primarily for Winning Time’s crew and cast, which features the likes of John C. Reilly, Adrien Brody, Quincy Isaiah, Hadley Robinson and more. He also wants to see the show continue its storylines. It’s hard to disagree with the notion that it would be a bit awkward if the series was to end after only its second season. NBA history buffs are surely more than aware that Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s reign in the ‘80s is only the tip of the iceberg for the franchise. And the writers and producers are well aware of that. 

Ahead of the second season’s premiere, I actually had the opportunity to speak with EPs Kevin Messick and Salli Richardson-Whitfield. They revealed during our fun chat that they hope to reach Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s era. Of course, they’re ultimately just choosing to take the process one step at a time. I’d be lying, though, if I said that as a fan, I’m not curious as to how they’d tackle O’Neal and Bryant’s feud, which allegedly caused dysfunction.

Speaking of controversy, Winning Time itself drummed up a bit of negative press during its first season. A number of the people portrayed within the show took issue with its account of events. Kareem Abdul Jabbar didn’t hold back when sharing his critiques, and fellow Lakers legend Jerry West took legal action against the show due to the way in which he was depicted. (West is portrayed as having a bad temper and being volatile at times.) Despite that, there are some franchise alums who’ve supported the HBO show. Even Shaq found the show mostly “entertaining,” though he did take issue with its take on West.

The Adam McKay-produced series has still thrived up to this point despite the backlash and has apparently earned a solid following. Nevertheless, Jeff Pearlman’s appeals give the impression that its viewership numbers may not be so strong right now. A decision on its fate likely won’t arrive until Season 2 finishes in about a month. So if Pearlman is to be believed, fans may want to tune in during the weeks to come.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty airs new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO as part of the 2023 TV schedule. Episodes can also be streamed with a Max subscription upon their debut.

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