Winning Time: Magic Johnson says he never watched HBO’s now cancelled show

Magic Johnson isn’t one of the people upset that HBO’s Winning Time was cancelled, with him saying he never watched the “fictional” show.

While most of us here at JoBlo are pretty bummed that HBO cancelled Winning Time, their terrific depiction of the Lakers Dynasty, it turns out that many of the players depicted on the show are indifferent about its cancellation. Magic Johnson, the main character on the show (and played by the terrific Quincy Isaiah), says he never watched the show. At a recent event (The Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS), According to THR, Johnson stated, “Well, I never watched it because nobody in this world can tell the Lakers story [like it needed to be told]. The Showtime story? Nobody! Dr. Buss was way ahead of his time as an owner. Our team? Unbelievable! The Laker Girls with Paula Abdul? Unbelievable! Nobody can tell that story.” 

Many former players, particularly the outspoken Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, disliked the show. In a THR op-ed, He took issue with how former Lakers head coach Jerry West was portrayed, which he said was cartoonish and insensitive to the man’s struggles with mental health. Jabbar was also furious at a scene where he told his Airplane! child co-star, Ross Harris, to “f*ck off”. “I never said ‘fuck off’ to the child actor [Ross Harris] in Airplane! nor have I ever said that to any child,” he said. 

Johnson added, “So, none of us watched it because it was fictional. You just can’t tell that story. But, hey, that’s on them.” Even if many of the players disliked the show, it still had a solid following. Its cancellation is a disappointing move from HBO, who, it should be said, have very little of their trademark prestige TV shows still airing given that Succession and Barry have ended, and they (stupidly) cancelled Perry Mason. There is a danger that HBO could over-exploit their current big franchises (Game of Thrones and The Last of Us), a trap Disney Plus fell into with Marvel and Star Wars, so hopefully, they green light some more bold programming soon.

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