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Jerry West’s Portrayal in ‘Winning Time’ Drawing Objections From Colleagues

The series has “done a grave injustice to Jerry… but a huge disservice to the show’s viewers, who will think that it’s a true and accurate portrayal of reality.” 

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Viewers of HBO’s Winning Time, a dramatized series about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers and the evolution of their championship dynasty, might be surprised by the portrayal of franchise legend and NBA icon Jerry West.

Played by Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Winning Time’s depiction of West is of a perpetually unhappy man prone to swings of anger and depression, consumed by a insatiable appetite for winning and control. Faced with the team drafting 6-foot-9 point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson, West is also slow to adapt to innovation, determined that a player that tall should be in the frontcourt.

Those accustomed to West’s public persona as a smart, fiercely competitive, but apparently gentle man will likely find the fictionalized version of West as a rage monster prone to breaking golf clubs over his knee, throwing trophies through windows, and secluding himself in his den as a shock. Also surely jarring was a sex scene involving West and a woman he picked up at a bar after winning the 1972 NBA championship and drinking alone.

Evidently, those who actually know West feel Winning Time‘s portrayal is entirely inaccurate. Longtime Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti told The Athletic’s Bill Oram that he was offered a role in the series but objected to how West was depicted in the script, calling it “a total mischaracterization.”

Former Lakers player and general manager Mitch Kupchak (who was the assistant GM under West) said the person shown on screen “is not the same guy,” and never lost his temper. Another former team executive said anonymously that the series has “done a grave injustice to Jerry… but a huge disservice to the show’s viewers, who will think that it’s a true and accurate portrayal of reality.” 

Those who spoke to Oram are consistent in their assertion that West didn’t show his temper, but probably internalized his emotions. He carried himself as a gentleman, not someone who was frequently angry and cursing around the Lakers’ offices.

Veteran NBA writer Marc Stein, whose coverage is now available on Substack, also objected to the portrayal of West.

“The West presented in Winning Time was absurdly, embarrassingly one note and left out any hint of the wisdom, leadership and charm that made him a franchise pillar for decades and one of the greatest Lakers ever,” Stein wrote. “The worst part: Younger fans of the Lakers and the NBA in general, who missed Showtime in real time and have turned to this series for an education, are bound to believe West was this unhinged.”

Prior to Winning Time‘s premiere on HBO, reports of dissatisfaction from the NBA, the Lakers, and several players portrayed in the series weren’t happy with the dramatization. After viewing the first two episodes, that view is understandable. Neither West nor Johnson are depicted very flatteringly.

While it should be understood that this isn’t a documentary, it’s a fictionalization that exaggerates, the concern that some might perceive this as the truth is a valid concern and open to criticism.

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‘NFL Total Access’ Comes to an End After 21 Years on NFL Network

“Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network.”

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‘NFL Total Access’ has been a part of the NFL Network since 2003 and today it is set for its final episode. The news of the show coming to an end came down earlier this month. Many of the current show participants took to social media to post their thoughts including hosts Mike Yam and Kimmi Chex along with analyst Chase Daniel.

“Tonight marks the last ever episode of NFL Total Access,” said Chex. “I was 7 years old when this show aired meaning that I spent my life watching. Co-hosting our flagship program this past season has been the honor of my career. I’m not going anywhere but for now, it’s goodbye TA.”

Yam said, “It’s been an absolute thrill hosting NFL Total Access. Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network. “Thank you” isn’t nearly enough to express the gratitude I have for the team. See you at 7est for 1 more run.”

A report from The Athletic said the show would be replaced “at least in the interim” by Insiders with Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero.

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NBCUniversal Names Olympic Hosts for USA, CNBC and E!; Kathryn Tappen Headlines

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games.”

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NBC Olympics Logo and photos of Cara Banks, Laura Britt, Trenni Casey, Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno, and Kathryn Tappen

NBCUniversal announced its hosts for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 on USA Network, CNBC and E! Cara Banks, Laura Britt and Trenni Casey will all be a part of the coverage on CNBC and E! Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno and Kathryn Tappen will all take part in the USA Network coverage.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics is Friday, July 26 on NBC, Peacock, and Telemundo.

Coverage on USA Network, CNBC, and E! is expected to include Team USA men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as swimming, gymnastics, and track & field, and more.

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games,” said Rebecca Chatman, Vice President and Coordinating Producer, NBC Olympics Production in a release.

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Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick Return to Host Indy 500 for NBC Sports

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

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Logos for Indy 500, NBC Sports and photos of Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick
Photos Courtesy: NBC Sports

With less than two weeks until the event, NBC Sports has officially announced its team of race and studio commentators for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. For the sixth year in a row, we can expect to see familiar faces such as host Mike Tirico and studio analyst Danica Patrick contributing to pre-race, in-race, and post-race coverage.

The race will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 26, on both NBC and Peacock.

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe will call the race for the sixth consecutive year. Marty Snider, Dillon Welch, Dave Burns, and Kevin Lee will serve as pit reporters. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and Kim Coon will serve as roaming reporters.

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