The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Cancelled at HBO After Two Seasons

The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Cancelled at HBO After Two Seasons

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty has concluded its run after two seasons on HBO, with news of the show’s cancellation arriving shortly after the Season 2 finale on Sunday night.

As reported by Deadline, Winning Time co-creator Max Borenstein marked the end of the series with a brief message on X. “Not the ending that we had in mind,” he wrote in the immediate aftermath of the Season 2 finale (now known to be the last episode of the sports drama). “But nothing but gratitude and love.”

Director Salli Richardson posted a photo from the Lakers locker room on Instagram alongside the caption: “When you give it everything you’ve got, you can have no regrets. I hope you enjoy the last episode of @winningtimehbo I am sure I will do many more hours of TV and hopefully many features in my future, but I can say that at this moment in time, I am most proud of the work we did on this masterful show.”

According to GamesRadar, Winning Time’s creators filmed an alternate ending for Season 2 in January in case HBO cancelled the series. Instead of closing with Magic Johnson reeling over the Lakers’ loss in the 1984 NBA Finals, the episode ends with a new scene featuring team owner Jerry Buss assuring his heir to daughter Jeanie.

“It was a creative problem that we needed to come up with a solution for: what would [an ending after two seasons] look like? Whether we liked it or not, it was a problem that we had to solve,” executive producer Kevin Messick told Vulture. “And so we prepared before the strike, and delivered to HBO, two different versions of the ending so that HBO would have both options by the time the show started airing and ratings came in and reviews and all that.”

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman, dramatises the meteoric rise of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers to becoming one of the most dominant sports teams ever, starting out with the 1979–1980 NBA season.

The series premiered on March 6, 2022, and quickly earned a second season renewal from HBO despite the show facing strong criticism from several basketball legends, including the likes of NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who spoke out against Winning Time, calling its storylines “dishonest” and “drearily dull”.

Season 2 debuted on August 6, 2023, with a reported 629,000 total viewers across Max and linear telecasts, marking a 30% dip in viewership compared to the first season’s premiere. IGN’s review of the sophomore season called it “okay”, noting that, on the whole, “Winning Time is never quite as compelling as it thinks it is.”


Adele Ankers-Range is a freelance entertainment writer for IGN. Follow her on Twitter.

 

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