The run of one of HBO’s greatest current programs has come to an end. Winning Time will not be coming back for a season 3.
Fans across social media were both in shock and disappointment, to hear the news over the weekend. It has been both a joy and a privilege to watch the history of the Los Angeles Lakers unfold from the start of their glorious dynasty.
Being able to watch some of the world’s best athletes to ever play the game, was both fascinating and endearing. We were all hoping for more seasons to come as this was such a unique show that deals with so much sports history, in a way that is unmatched by anything else on television today.
HBO just ended the second season of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty with episode 7. None of us knew at the time that it would be the series finale.
It was not a finale that ended, that felt like the end. Fortunately, the show’s producers were not as shocked as the fans.
They got the unfortunate news a couple of weeks ago. The ratings were just not up to par for what HBO was expecting or wanting to sign them on for a third season.
— HBO (@HBO) September 17, 2023
In an interview with Vulture executive producer Kevin Messick spoke about the ending of the show. There was never any guarantee for Winning Time.
HBO had already warned them of the possibility of canceling and told them to prepare just in case the numbers were not good enough for another season. The sports market can be a hard venture where anyone outside of sports lovers, may not have been interested.
At the moment there are no plans to find another network to carry the show. Messick said they haven’t gone down that road yet.
Even the real-life Jeanie Buss was brought to tears by what they did with this show. She wasn’t ready for it to end but found it truly amazing what they were able to capture in such a short time.
It’s a real testament to hear those words from someone who lived it. So, you can’t count it as a failure.
Shows a very hit-and-miss these days and since the strike it’s been even harder. Being unable to promote season 2 may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
WINNING TIME was the best show on TV this year. By far. Not even close. Hardest cancellation in recent years. Throwing tomatoes in @HBO ‘s direction.
— Robert Kirkman (@RobertKirkman) September 18, 2023
Comic book writer and screenwriter, as well as co-creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman was disappointed along with fans by HBO’s decision. There were so many great areas yet to tackle in the Lakers dynasty.
Later in the timeline, Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis would have been very dramatic to tackle. It’s something all fans know about, and many were there when it happened.
It has been exciting to watch the emergence of Pat Riley become the Laker’s head coach. I would have loved to see much more of Pat and what he meant to those players and the fans.
But it’s not over till it’s over. Fans can have some hope that it could be picked up in the future.
It’s too great of a story to be left untold.
Winning Time: Who was in the cast of Winning Time?
Before we leave it here, let’s have a round of applause for the all-star cast of Winning Time. Quincy Isaiah had a remarkable role and big shoes to fill with Magic Johnson and did a masterful job playing out the heart of Magic.
From start to finish, Isaiah left us loving Magic no matter how many mistakes he made. But it’s the development of his character that sets him apart from the rest.
John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss. What can you say?
Jerry was a unique man and did things his own way. He cared about the team around him more than most owners do. John hit this role out of the park.
Watching his deep connection and friendship with Magic was one of the highlights of the series. Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar really captured the leadership and personality of one the greatest to ever play the game.
Though Kareem and Magic would butt heads a lot, the two of them became better players and better leaders throughout the series. There would be no Showtime without either.
Hadley Robinson of Jeanie Buss was a joy to watch from beginning to end. Jeanie was the picture of female success in a man’s world.
Jerry may have given her some help along the way, but she ended up becoming even greater than her father. Sean Patrick Small was the perfect young Larry Bird.
He portrayed the rivalry between Larry and Magic Johnson in a way both men should be proud of. We were able to see sides of Larry Bird most people were unaware of and the tragedy that made him the man he is today.
Gaby Hoffmann as Claire Rothman was another female in a powerful position within the Lakers organization. She never let Jerry Buss get away with anything and kept them out of hot water most of the time.
Jerry was very much of a dreamer, and she was always the one to pull him back to reality. DeVaughn Nixon was as great as Norman Nixon.
Often going head-to-head with Magic, Nixon stepped in for him at a time when the team needed another star. Interesting note, DeVaughn is the son of Norm Nixon.
Stormin Norman helped lead the Lakers to two world championships. Michael Chiklis as Red Auerbach…man did we love to hate this man.
But not only did he create a dynasty in Boston, he created a culture of Celtics basketball. This was always the man to beat for Jerry Buss and Michael played the role of Red with precision.
Sally Field as Jessie Buss was one of Jerry’s biggest inspirations. Jessie was a hard woman to love but Sally always plays those complicated strong women in a class all her own.
Anything Sally touches is gold, and this role is no different. Both Sally and John really made you feel the deep connection those two shared.
Jason Segel as Paul Westhead. Now I will admit this character got under my skin.
I think they wasted too much storyline on Paul, but Jason brought so much to the table. He made a very boring educated man who had no business coaching a professional team very likable.
In the end, it all got to Paul’s head, but he still went out on a high note. Jason Clarke could not have played a better Jerry West.
Between his constant frustrations with Jerry’s lack of knowledge or needless feuds between the players, Clarke brought such a comedic experience to the entire show. What came out of his mouth was exactly what fans watching were thinking.
He was just insanely stellar in this role. If he’s not nominated for an award, it’s a bigger travesty than the cancellation.
Last but certainly not least, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley. If I had to pick the one cast member who fit into their role like a glove it would be Adrien as Pat.
A former player who went from being on the sidelines announcing games, to his dream job as head coach of the Lakers. Now most people watching knew he would go on to lead the dynasty of the Lakers.
But this show was able to still make the journey so intriguing to watch. Adrien played Pat’s ability to be a father figure, zen master, and gut-punch when the team needed it.
His portrayal will be missed the most. Despite the loss, it’s been a delight as a non-Laker fan to watch this journey at the forefront of television.
It taught us no matter how ferocious these guys are on the court; at the end of the day, we are all just humans. We are trying to chase our dreams and battle our demons, as well struggle to get past tragedies that could destroy lesser men.
Perhaps one day we can see act three of the Rise of the Lakers.
How do you feel about Winning Time’s cancelation? Share your answers in the comments below!