Max Borenstein resides a dream. The Godzilla vs. Kong screenwriter grew up in Los Angeles, watching the Showtime Lakers and cheering for Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; many years later, he’s the cocreator and showrunner of HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. However nothing can put together you to face criticism out of your idols.
Based mostly on sports activities author Jeff Pearlman’s guide Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the Nineteen Eighties, the hit drama—which has already been greenlit for season two—can be a serious miss, a minimum of based on a lot of these chronicled. Abdul-Jabbar penned a scathing essay, whereas attorneys for Jerry West, the Corridor of Fame participant and former Lakers coach and common supervisor, have demanded a retraction, apology, and damages for the allegedly “false and defamatory portrayal” of West, performed by actor Jason Clarke, as an “out-of-control, intoxicated rage-aholic.”
In a current assertion, HBO got here to the protection of Borenstein and firm: “Winning Time will not be a documentary and has not been introduced as such. Nevertheless, the collection and its depictions are primarily based on intensive factual analysis and dependable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our gifted creators and solid who’ve introduced a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball historical past to the display screen.”
Winning Time concluded its first season with Sunday’s “Promised Land,” through which the Magic-led Lakers ended their very own first season with an NBA championship. To speak concerning the finale, the detractors, and the longer term, we went one-on-one with Borenstein.
Self-importance Truthful: Once I do these season postmortems with showrunners, it’s typically, “Oh, man, how did you arrive at this stunning conclusion?!” However, right here, any die-hard NBA fan or human with Google knew that the Lakers win the 1980 title. So how did you go about ensuring it didn’t really feel anticlimactic?
Max Borenstein: It’s twofold: It’s ensuring that it’s not anticlimactic, and it’s ensuring that it’s not climactic, as a result of that is solely the start of the story. I feel individuals know the broad strokes of this story from the 30,000-foot view, however that’s in the identical manner that you understand the broad strokes of an adaptation of an ideal novel or Shakespeare. Simply the truth that you understand the what doesn’t imply you perceive the how or the why. And it really liberates us in order that we are able to nonetheless have some surprises for the viewers, as a result of there are lots of issues individuals don’t know, like concerning the Jack McKinneys of the world who’ve been forgotten.
Individuals inform most sports activities tales particularly as a result of they’ve an finish. The template is, you win, you lose. In our case, we’re doing one thing completely different. We’re telling an epic that occurs to be on the earth of sports activities, however, in some ways, what it’s actually about is what occurs after. From the very starting, you meet characters who’re coming into a second act of their lives or scrounging about hoping that they’ll discover a second act of their lives. Jerry West, Pat Riley—these are guys who’ve gained, and then the tip of sports activities got here and they stared out into the abyss, asking themselves, “Now what?” So hopefully we are able to dramatize the episode in a manner that surprises and engages, whereas nonetheless digging into these elementary questions the place you understand that the victory itself is sophisticated and nuanced.
I’m excited about the way you’re pacing each this season and the collection. What was it like plotting out 12 months one, figuring out you could have 10-plus years of content material to work into what in all probability gained’t be 10-plus seasons of a present?
I don’t know if we’ll have 10 seasons, however I understand how many seasons it ought to be as a way to do it proper. Exactly as a result of individuals can go to the Wikipedia web page and discover out “what occurred,” there’s no level in doing a present that simply recreates these occasions and provides a couple of jokes and takes you thru the last decade in a pair years. By definition, for those who’re spending your actual property on transferring that shortly by way of time, you’ll be able to’t presumably go deep into any characters or the expertise, and these are the issues that had been extra thrilling and fascinating for me. It turned clear very early on that the fascinating model of this story wanted to be slowed down—and nonetheless an incredible quantity of stuff occurs on this season. Each episode is chock-full of incidents, murders, and pregnancies! [Laughs.] Whereas the nostalgia stuff is a stunning facet of constructing a present a couple of interval individuals bear in mind, if that’s all you’ve bought, you then’ve bought a reasonably shallow pool. It is a nice American epic that deserves a novelistic strategy.