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Jerry West: ‘If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court’

Jerry West sits on the bench before an NBA basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns
Jerry West sits on the bench before a game between the Clippers and Phoenix Suns on Oct. 21, 2017, at Staples Center.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
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Jerry West couldn’t help himself.

The NBA legend recently spoke to former Times sports editor Bill Dwyre about “The Dream Whisperer,” a documentary film about the incredible journey of West’s former Lakers teammate Dick Barnett.

But West also used the opportunity to make his first public comment on his beef with HBO’s “Winning Time.”

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West, 83, told Dwyre he will be on hand for the premiere of “The Dream Whisperer” on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Pan African Film & Arts Festival, in a theater complex at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.

According to Dwyre, West added that it will be nice to watch something accurate and positive.

“The Dream Whisperer” tells the story of former Laker Dick Barnett’s quest to get Tennessee A&I, which won the NAIA championship from 1957-59, into the Hall of Fame.

April 26, 2022

That, of course, is a reference to “Winning Time,” which dramatizes, and sometimes fictionalizes, elements of the Lakers’ Showtime era.

Last week, West expressed his unhappiness with the way he is portrayed in the series through a letter to HBO from his attorney, Louis R. Miller.

“You replaced the real Jerry West — a consummate professional — with his polar opposite, then portrayed this lie to the public as genuine,” the letter read. “You thereby violated the law.”

The letter also said: “To mitigate the harm you have caused, we request the issuance of a retraction of Winning Time’s false depiction of Jerry West no later than two weeks from the date of this letter. You also owe Mr. West an apology for your hurtful misrepresentation of his work and legacy, plus damages for the harm you caused to his well-earned and stellar reputation.”

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HBO’s “Winning Time” captures the Lakers’ Showtime spirit, but the show gets one thing very wrong: its over-the-top portrayal of legend Jerry West.

April 22, 2022

Although the letter seemed to suggest some legal action might take place if those demands aren’t met, West apparently confirmed that to be his intention during his discussion with Dwyre.

“The series made us all [the Lakers] look like cartoon characters,” West told Dwyre. “They belittled something good. If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”

HBO has indicated it has no intention of honoring West’s demands.

“‘Winning Time’ is not a documentary and has not been presented as such,” HBO said Tuesday in a statement. “However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.”

The network on Tuesday defended the series, which portrays the Lakers great as hot-tempered and moody. West’s attorney fired back.

April 26, 2022

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