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Winning Time's best aspect was to not take its legends seriously, making them "more humanesque"

  • When Winning Time co-creator Jim Hecht first pitched author Jeff Pearlman in 2014 about adapting his Showtime Lakers book, he described wanting to make Friday Night Lights about the 1980s Lakers. "Eight years later, Hecht and co-creator Max Borenstein succeeded in making something like the exact opposite," says David Roth. "Where Friday Night Lights is respectful and occasionally sentimental in dealing with the consequential stuff in the smallish lives at the center of its story, Winning Time's most commendable and distinctive attribute is its unwillingness to take any of the extremely famous people who fill out the story as seriously as they are accustomed to being taken. Their various individual struggles are mostly treated with some storytelling respect but, in contrast to the recent proliferation of star-driven documentaries, treating the show’s various legends with respect was quite clearly not the purpose, or the point. As a result, a show made by extremely hardcore Lakers fans managed to piss off basically all of the most prominent living Lakers franchise icons, and the organization itself. There has been something grimly funny about the ways in which their complaints about the show conformed to the caricatures drawn of them in Winning Time." Roth adds: "Those who have won enough in our culture are accustomed to being able to tell their own stories, as they want them told; the right to tell the story of your success in your way, and without interruption or contradiction, is a sort of appurtenance of that kind of success. Of course they don’t like to see themselves portrayed as something sillier and more unsettled than their preferred projection."

    TOPICS: Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, HBO, Friday Night Lights, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar