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Lakers legend Magic Johnson pans ‘Winning Time’

Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson in HBO's "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty."Warrick Page/HBO

HBO’s cancellation of “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” after just two seasons has bummed out a lot of fans of the miniseries.

But don’t count Magic Johnson among them.

The retired Lakers superstar is a key figure in “Winning Time,” played by Quincy Isaiah. You’d think Johnson would be at least a little bit curious about how he was portrayed. But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the cancellation, Johnson said: “Well, I never watched it because nobody in this world can tell the Lakers story [like it needed to be told].

“So, none of us watched it because it was fictional,” Johnson added. “You just can’t tell that story. But, hey, that’s on them.”


When asked whether he would ever seek to tell his own life story in a narrative form onscreen, Johnson did not close the door.

“If I do, I got two of the biggest friends in the business,” he said, referring to Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. “So, if I ever do it, it would be with one of my friends because they already know me. We’ll see.”

Back in 2012, I saw a biographical stage drama titled “Magic/Bird,’’ about Johnson’s friendly rivalry with Celtics legend Larry Bird. Written by Eric Simonson and directed by Thomas Kail, it had a deservedly short-lived run on Broadway. (Kail would have better luck a few years later at the helm of a little musical called “Hamilton.”)

Listed among the producers of “Magic/Bird” was “Friends of Magic/Bird,” an organization whose members included none other than Magic Johnson.

Don Aucoin can be reached at Follow him @GlobeAucoin.