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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar rips "drearily dull" Winning Time: It "avoided facts as if they were an STD"

  • "There is only one immutable sin in writing: Don’t Be Boring! Winning Time commits that sin over and over," the NBA icon says in an essay on the HBO series on his Substack. Abdul-Jabbar says he intended on avoiding the HBO Showtime Lakers series. "However, after hearing some angry grumblings in the pop culture ether about misrepresentation and outright lies, my journalistic curiosity took over and I sat down to watch," he says. Abdul-Jabbar emphasized that he has been through the ringer of being mocked for 55 years, so being portrayed "as basically a T-800 Terminator robot" didn't bother him. But Abdul-Jabbar was stunned that an Adam McKay comedy would suffer from "shallowness and lazy writing." "Humor is one of Adam McKay’s specialties, but he can’t seem to find any in this show," says Abdul-Jabbar. "There are attempts, but they often fall flat because they are so obvious and predictable. Those bro-dude attempts are as cringy as a bad SNL skit. He uses the technique of breaking the fourth wall in order to have the characters directly address the audience. The only reason to do this is to get humor or give insight, as it does in his The Big Short and other films such as Annie Hall, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Deadpool, and the TV show Fleabag. But in Winning Time, it’s neither funny nor insightful, mostly just giving us information." As a fan of Hulu's The Great, Abdul-Jabbar says he realizes that adaptations based on real-life events have to take liberties with their subject matter. But he was ticked off that Winning Time invented him telling his young Airplane! co-star to "F*ck off," especially since it may have an impact on his Skyhook Foundation that serves inner-city children. He also echoed others in denouncing Winning Time's portrayal of Jerry West, "who has openly discussed his struggle with mental health, especially depression. Instead of exploring his issues with compassion as a way to better understand the man, they turn him into a Wile E. Coyote cartoon to be laughed at." Abdul-Jabbar adds: "So, the issue with Winning Time isn’t so much that the filmmakers deliberately avoided facts as if they were an STD, but that they replaced solid facts with flimsy cardboard fictions that don’t go deeper and offer no revealing insights." He concludes: "Yeah, there’s an amazing, compelling, culturally insightful story in there. Winning Time just ain’t that story."

    TOPICS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, HBO, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, Adam McKay, Solomon Hughes