Save time no longer wins.
HBO canceled the series – full title Winning Era: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty – after two seasons. The news was a surprise and came just moments after the network aired the second season finale on Sunday night.
Co-creator Max Borenstein confirmed the news on X (formerly Twitter): “Not the ending we had in mind. But nothing but gratitude and love.”
And director Salli Richardson Posted on Instagram: “If you give it everything you have, you can’t have any regrets. I hope you enjoy the latest episode of @winningtimehbo. I’m sure I’ll be doing many more hours of TV and hopefully many feature films in the future, but I can say that right now I’m most proud of the work we’ve done on this masterful performance.”
In an interview with THR In late August, Richardson shared hopes for a third season, given how the finale plays out. “Of course you see how the season ends. So at the very least, even if we can do this for years, we would like to have one more season so we can have the Lakers beat the Celtics. We don’t want to end with a Celtics win. That’s terrible,” she told THR. “I think people have realized this season that if you just watch the show instead of judging the show without seeing it, it’s a great show. It’s a well-written show with incredible performances. And you don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy it. I think what Jeff was trying to say is that he hopes people find this gem that’s out there because it really is a great show and I’m proud to be a part of it.
The show, which debuted in March 2022, focuses on the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team and their rise to fame in the early 1980s. The first season spotlighted Jerry Buss’ first year as the team’s owner and Magic Johnson’s rookie year, 1979-80. The second season takes place in the following four years.
The show was created by Borenstein and Jim Hecht, based on the book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman.
When the series premiered, it was criticized by both Lakers and former Lakers coach and general manager Jerry West, who was played by Jason Clarke in the series. At the time, West sent a legal letter to Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO and series producer Adam McKay, seeking a retraction, an apology and unspecified damages for the “false and defamatory portrayal.” West argued through his attorney that those who watched his portrayal… Save time now believe he is an “out of control, intoxicated rage-aholic.”
In response, HBO said The Hollywood Reporter that the network “has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that have been partially fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Save time is not a documentary and is not presented as such. However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sources, and HBO stands firmly behind our talented creators and cast who brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen.
Former Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson also took issue with the series, with the former calling it a “boring” show with “crude stick figures that look like real people.”
For his part, Johnson said, “You can’t write a Lakers story without the Lakers. The real Lakers. You have to have the boys.”