Are you looking forward to finally seeing Winning Time when it debuts on HBO? If you answered yes, you are very different from a number of people associated with the NBA. A cover story for The Hollywood Reporter by Lacey Rose details that the league, the Lakers, and several players have expressed a distinct lack of support for the series in various ways.
The league did not get creative input on the series. It also did not authorize the use of any logos or trademarks. NBA lawyers have already reached out to HBO to point this out.
As for the former players, Rose writes that several of the stars of the Showtime-era Lakers “allegedly detest [Winning Time’s] very existence.” She has sources that say former players are worried about just how much of the real story is going to be told. They wish they or the league had some way to “whitewash” what makes it to the screen.
Magic Johnson, in particular, doesn’t seem thrilled. He told TMZ that he “is not looking forward” to the show’s debut. He could be concerned about being painted in an unflattering light. He could also be concerned that the project will create competition for his own project, an auto-biographical docu-series at Apple TV+ in April. He and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who has also expressed reservations, will be part of a documentary for Hulu about those teams that the Lakers are behind.
HBO is pulling out all the stops to promote Winning Time. That included a private party and special screening in Cleveland that members of the team and NBA officials declined to attend. Rose contacted the Lakers for her article and received a response that read “We have no comment as we are not supporting nor involved with this project.”
Executive Producer Adam McKay hopes that some of those people will have their minds changed once they see the finished product.
“We’re coming at this with good intentions, but these guys don’t know that,” he told Rose. “They’re used to a certain degree of media that’s always going after them, and if I could talk to them, I’d say, ‘No, no, don’t worry, we’re going to paint the whole picture,’ but I get it, they don’t know me or [our showrunner] Max Borenstein, and it’s their right to really not like it.”
John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN
“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”
There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.
Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.
“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”
Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.
“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.
Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs
“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”
Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.
Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.
In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”
The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.
Rece Davis Believes Final Regular Season College GameDay Show Typically Most Hectic Due to Coaching Changes
“There were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime.”
College GameDay was in Columbus this past weekend ahead of Ohio State’s annual rivalry game against Michigan, and host Rece Davis said a number of head coaching announcements throughout the show made for some pretty chaotic moments.
Luke Fickell being named the new head coach at Wisconsin and former Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule being hired at Nebraska were among the marquee hirings announced over the weekend.
On the College GameDay Podcast, Davis said trying to get information confirmed and incorporated into the show in real time was exhilarating.
“It was a bizarre, fun show that we’ve had over the years when we’ve gone to Ohio State/Michigan,” he said. “I remember the ’16 year that we extended the show to five hours. It was really fun, and then a really great game followed it. And there were so many coaching changes and decisions, and we’re getting people on the phone. That was before everybody got comfortable with FaceTime. But there were a lot of bizarre things going on.”
Podcast co-host and senior college football reporter Pete Thamel echoed Davis’ sentiments, saying he would do a hit on the show, then take out his earpiece and immediately get back on the phone to work on getting the most up to date information.
“It was whoa,” he said. “We did the first segment…and normally I would’ve stayed and watched to see what the guys had to say, but I just walked off the stage and went back and started making calls.”
In addition to the Wisconsin and Nebraska hirings, Thamel was also working on trying to figure out the situation at Auburn. He helped get Rhule on the show as well, and he said it was cool the show’s team was able to book guests so quickly from different locations in the country.
“We literally went coast to coast on GameDay with good interviews on Saturday,” he said.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.