Adam McKay’s “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” has come under scrutiny for the liberties it’s taken over portraying the NBA team.
John C. Reilly, who plays the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, is coming to his show’s defence. During an interview with Vulture about the HBO series, the actor addressed the criticisms.
“The overall plot is based on historical fact, but we do fill in a lot of blanks,” he said. “I knew it would be difficult for the people involved in this story to see their lives depicted in a semi-fictional way. But that doesn’t mean this story shouldn’t be told. The truth is these were crazy times.”
The show follows the meteoric rise of the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s into becoming one of the most successful teams in the NBA. Despite HBO’s defence that the series is “based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing”, it has drawn criticism from the subjects of its series.
Former player Jerry West has slammed the series for the “egregious and cruel” depiction of its players and even threatened legal action.
“I respect everyone’s right to their own story, but I don’t think that precludes others from telling public stories. And this is a public story,” Reilly continued. “People have said, ‘How can you tell the story of the Lakers without the Lakers themselves?’ And my answer to that is, ‘How could you tell it with them?'”
Reilly actually ended up running into Buss’ daughter Jeanie, who is the current owner of the Lakers, during a game.
While she wasn’t supportive or critical, she did offer him some kind words.
“‘Listen, the team’s not participating in the show, so I’m not here to say anything good or bad about it. But I wanted to tell you something personal: My dad knew who you were. He loved musicals, and he saw you in Chicago and really loved your performance as Mister Cellophane,” he recalled. “He said, ‘See that actor? That’s someone that can make you laugh and make you cry. That’s the mark of a great actor.’”