HBO’s new show Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is a big hit, but don’t count Earvin “Magic” Johnson as one of them.
In a wide-ranging interview with Variety, Johnson finally broke his silence on the show based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, which sheds a different light on the rise of the Showtime Lakers. The show stars John C. Reilly as the late Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and details how he built the dynamic team starting with the drafting of Earvin “Magic” Johnson (Quincy Isaiah). It also highlights the difficulty of getting other members of the team like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) to buy into his vision.
It’s no secret Johnson is not a fan of the show opting to plug his upcoming Last Dance-Esque Apple TV+ four-part documentary They Call Me Magic. In the interview, he broke his silence on his thoughts about the show that is “loosely based” on his life. “You can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers,” he told Variety’s Selome Hailu and Ramin Setoodeh.
Johnson hasn’t even watched the show that premiered on March 6 because HBO or anyone involved in the show’s creation reached out to him or his teammates for participation or input. “First of all, you can’t do a story about the Lakers without the Lakers,” Johnson told Variety. “The real Lakers. You gotta have the guys. There’s no way to duplicate Showtime. I don’t care who you get.”
“We changed basketball! Every time out, Paula Abdul and them beautiful Laker Girls came out on that floor. First time ever. Dancing girls! And they turnt it out,” he noted while reminiscing during the interview.
“All the latest music, and all the latest dances. You can’t duplicate that. We entertain you. Show you moves that you’ve only seen in the nightclub,” he further added.
Quincy Isaiah, who is receiving high praise for his portrayal of Johnson, also responded to Johnson’s criticism. “I mean, I understand where they coming from because it’s a story about their life,” Isaiah told TMZ Sports. “So, it’s tough. But I really feel like we did a really good job of showing humans and showing a full version of who we at least perceive them to be,” adding that “There’s no malice behind it.”
Well, for any sports fan, Winning Time: The Rise of the Laker Dynasty is a great show. It’s unfortunate but, at the same time, understandable that former Lakers players like Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar are not feeling it.
Will Johnson’s beef with the show keep you from checking out? It doesn’t seem to stop other eyes from viewing it.
Photo: Bernard Smalls / @BeanzGotGamez