HBO’s acclaimed Lakers dynasty drama, “Winning Time,” has announced that its season-two finale will also serve as the series finale. There were hints about this earlier in the season and producers also took proactive steps to prepare for a possible premature conclusion. However, the news did catch a lot of fans off guard.
HBO’s decision was not entirely unforeseen. Network executives subtly indicated that the series was not gaining the momentum required for a renewal during the early stages of season two. While a third season was anticipated, the subtle hints prompted some people involved with the show to share their concerns on social media.
The original season two finale was supposed to end with the Lakers’ heartbreaking defeat in the 1984 NBA Finals. Nevertheless, HBO’s advanced notice about a possible cancellation provided the team with the opportunity to create an alternative ending. The aired version of the season finale ended with a scene where team owner Jerry Buss (played by John C. Reilly) and his daughter Jeanie (portrayed by Hadley Robinson) share vision for the Lakers’ future. This is followed by a montage set to Pat Benatar’s “Shadows of the Night,” providing updates on the real-life characters depicted in the show.
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Executive producer Kevin Messick revealed that discussions about a third season were underway but plans were disrupted by the WGA and SAG strikes. In fact, the strikes during the launch of season 2 affected the promotional efforts.
While “Winning Time” failed to shed light on every aspect and every achievement of Magic Johnson’s life along with all Lakers legends, the show has built a legacy for itself. It succeeded in blending sports history, drama, and character exploration. There were more stories to tell, more events to explore. Thanks to the producer’s foresight, the show had a respectable ending.