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Right around the time viewers were noticing that the end cards in the season two finale of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty felt an awful lot like a series finale, news was dropping that the show will indeed be canceled. And fans were shocked.
The HBO series — based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers — is a dramatization that chronicles the rise of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, with an ensemble cast that’s led by John C. Reilly and also includes Adrien Brody, Jason Clarke, Quincy Isaiah, Sally Field and Jason Segel, to name a very few.
Season 1 focused on the arrival of Magic Johnson to the team in the 1979-80 season, while Season 2 covered 1980-84 by digging into the intense rivalry between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics, which lasted pretty much the whole decade. Season 2 also further explored the explosive personal life of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and his daughter, Jeanie Buss, who would go on to become the team’s president.
But despite solid reviews from critics and viewers, the author Pearlman was worried the ongoing writer’s strike and a lack of viewership may ultimately do the show in. And sure enough, Sunday’s announcement by HBO justified those fears.
But viewers were blindsided by the news for the most part and took to social media with their reactions.
— Gideon Vane✋ 🕯 💀 🕯 (@GideonVane) September 18, 2023
— Jesse P. Pollack (@jpollackauthor) September 18, 2023
— acinoM anigeR (@TheMFWIC) September 18, 2023
— BONE 👑 (@BelovedBone) September 18, 2023
Canceling #WinningTime is so damn dumb and they wonder why people are canceling their Max subscriptions
— Addis Davis (@King_Addis_Des) September 18, 2023
And to add insult to injury for many fans of the show was the fact that the series ended on a Lakers loss to the Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals. The Lakers would go on to beat them twice in the ensuing years, but the show didn’t last long enough to tell those stories.
.@HBO abruptly ending a show called "Winning Time" with its protagonist losing in the series finale perfectly encapsulates the network's present era.
— Asif Hossain (@asifintoronto) September 18, 2023
— RBloodworth (@RBloodworth78) September 18, 2023
Winning time ended with the Celtics winning the title? That’s hilarious
— Karan (@ksenguptaa) September 18, 2023
Of course that opened the door for plenty of jokes, considering the show is called Winning Time. But one person who wasn’t joking around was Max Borenstein, the series showrunner, executive producer, writer and co-creator, who also took to social media with his reaction.
Not the ending that we had in mind.
But nothing but gratitude and love. #winningtime
— Max Borenstein (@MAXBORENSTEIN) September 18, 2023
While viewers were quick to beg other streaming services like Netflix to pick up the show, nothing has been reported as of yet. And with the ongoing actor's and writer’s strikes, it could be some time before any sort of decision like that is made.
Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is available for streaming on Max.