Jerry West has demanded a retraction and an apology from HBO over the portrayal of his character on Winning Time. Through his legal representatives West called the show "a baseless malicious assault" on his character. The critically-acclaimed series depicts the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty in the early 1980s and West is a major part of the show.
West's legal team sent a letter to HBO and series producer Adam McKay demanding the apology, according to ESPN. In it, his lawyers claimed Winning Time depicts West as "an out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic" that, "bears no resemblance to the real man."
Skip Miller, a partner at the Miller Barondess LLP law firm representing West said the following:
"The portrayal of NBA icon and LA Lakers legend Jerry West in 'Winning Time' is fiction pretending to be fact -- a deliberately false characterization that has caused great distress to Jerry and his family,. Contrary to the baseless portrayal in the HBO series, Jerry had nothing but love for and harmony with the Lakers organization, and in particular owner Dr. Jerry Buss, during an era in which he assembled one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
"Jerry West was an integral part of the Lakers and NBA's success. It is a travesty that HBO has knowingly demeaned him for shock value and the pursuit of ratings. As an act of common decency, HBO and the producers owe Jerry a public apology and at the very least should retract their baseless and defamatory portrayal of him."
While HBO clearly states the series is a dramatization, West's attorneys don't think that absolves the network of liability.
Jason Clarke plays West in Winning Time, which airs Sunday nights on HBO.