"Made him out to be a grouch"- Chris Russo recounts Jerry West's portrayal in "Winning Time" after legend's death 

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Chris Russo recounts Jerry West's portrayal in "Winning Time" after legend's death

The NBA world was hit hard Wednesday morning following the news that Jerry West died at the age of 86. While talking about the legendary guard, one analyst shared his thoughts on an alleged inaccurate portrayal of West.

During Wednesday's episode of "First Take" on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith and Chris Russo touched on the heartbreaking news. Russo went on a rant about how West was depicted in the "Winning Time" documentary series. HBO released the show about the "Showtime" Lakers, but it ended up being canceled after just two seasons.

"They were terrible for him," Russo said. "They made him out to be a grouch. It was terrible, awful."

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Jerry West's playing and coaching days were over in the time period of the show, but he was still a prominent member of the organization. In 1979, the Hall of Fame guard was named general manager of the Lakers. This marked the beginning of a decades-long run for him as an executive in the league.

As GM, West helped build the "Showtime" squad that won five titles in the 1980s. At the center of the dynasty was a young Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the back end of his prime.

Jerry West sought legal action against HBO for his portrayal in "Winning Time"

As Russo mentioned, Jerry West was not pleased about how the people at HBO wrote him out to be in "Winning Time." In fact, he was so distraught by how they made him out to be that he sought legal action.

When the show first came out in the spring of 2022, West's legal team reached out to the network seeking a retraction. He felt what they did was an attack on his character and that it wasn't accurate to the kind of person he was back then.

In a statement released by Jerry West's legal team, they touched on how distraught the show left the Lakers legend and his family. They also sought out a public apology from HBO for their actions. The statement read:

"The portrayal of NBA icon and L.A. 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.
"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."

In the end, HBO did not end up responding to any of West's comments. While the show shined a bad light on him, in reality, he was loyal to the Lakers organization for over 40 years.

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Edited by Rajdeep Barman
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