For HBO, the Los Angeles Lakers’ decade-long dynasty never really was. The premium cabler said Sunday that Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty was canceled after two seasons — with just one of the team’s five 1980s NBA titles depicted onscreen.
In an exit interview with Vulture, Winning Time EP Kevin Messick the producers never had a time frame for how long the series might run, saying: “I think we always took it season by season. Before the [WGA] strike happened, we had just started to talk about what would’ve happened in Season 3, but all that was curtailed and cut short.”
Season 2 was intended to end with the Lakers’ churning loss to the archrival Boston Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals. That version was sent to critics as the season began, but the tweaked version that aired featured Lakers owner Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) and his daughter and future team owner Jeanie Buss (Hadley Robinson) sprawled on the Forum logo celebrating the better times. That was followed by a montage about the key players’ later fates.
That ending montage “could have run at the end of any season,” Messick said. “But it works no matter how long we got to make the story because the success and the accomplishments of each of our characters are true no matter what year it airs.”
He added: “All I can say is I don’t think there was a magic number of seasons, but if you read Jeff Pearlman’s book, and the subsequent books that he wrote about the Lakers afterward, there are definitely more stories to tell..”
The Lakers went on to win the NBA title in 1985 and back-to-back in 1987 and ’88.
Featuring exquisitely depicted period-specific production design, the series starred the likes of DeVaughn Nixon, Delante Desouza, Jimel Atkins and Quincy Isaiah as players, Jason Clarke as GM Jerry West, Adrien Brody as coach Pat Riley and Jason Segel as ill-fated coach Paul Westhead.