After two seasons, the semi-autobiographical Los Angeles Lakers series Winning Time has been canceled on HBO. The news came on Sunday night (September 17), when the show aired the second season’s seventh episode, “What Is and What Should Never Be,” which came to be the show’s finale.
The Final Quarter | Winning Time Season 2 | HBOwww.youtube.com
The cancellation was confirmed by show co-creators Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht on X/Twitter. Also following Borenstein and Hecht’s statement was actress, producer and filmmaker, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, who directed five episodes of the series, including the finale.
Sports writer Jeff Pearlman, who wrote the 2014 book that the show’s based upon, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, pleaded with fans to consistently watch the show throughout its second season. Compared to its season one debut to 901,000 viewers, the second season’s 629,000 viewership paled in comparison.
While the first season focused on the formation of the Lakers’ ‘Showtime’ lineup, season two centered on the team’s run from the 1980 NBA Finals through 1984, including former coach Pat Riley succeeding Paul Westhead.
On social media, fans showed their disappointment with the news, as the series had yet to reach Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive diagnosis, which Winning Time opened up with.
However, teammates from the Lakers’ ‘Showtime’ era, like Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were displeased with the show’s inaugural season, the latter writing a Substack post titled ‘”Winning Time” Isn’t Just Deliberately Dishonest, It’s Drearily Dull’ last April.
“There is only one immutable sin in writing: Don’t Be Boring! Winning Time commits that sin over and over,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote, criticizing the screenwriters. “The characters are crude stick-figure representations that resemble real people, the way Lego Han Solo resembles Harrison Ford. Each character is reduced to a single bold trait, as if the writers were afraid anything more complex would tax the viewers’ comprehension.”