The saga of the 1980s Lakers is no more on HBO.
Deadline reports that Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty has been cancelled after two seasons. Series creator Max Borenstein and director Salli Richardson and addressed the cancellation on social media.
Borenstein wrote on X, “Not the ending that we had in mind. But nothing but gratitude and Love.”
Not the ending that we had in mind.
But nothing but gratitude and love. #winningtime
— Max Borenstein (@MAXBORENSTEIN) September 18, 2023
Richardson wrote on Instagram, “When you give it everything you’ve got, you can have no regrets. I hope you enjoy the last episode of @winningtimehbo I am sure I will do many more hours of TV and hopefully many features in my future, but I can say that at this moment in time I am most proud of the work we did on this masterful show.”
Deadline reports how the second season return of the sports drama fell about 300,000 viewers from the first season’s debut. The second season earned 629,000 viewers in its debut, while the first season’s debut earned 901,000. As we reported in 2022, HBO said in its second season announcement for the series that the fifth episode of Season 1 had “a series viewership high of 1.2 million viewers across platforms on premiere night, a 37% increase from the first episode.”
By themselves, they would seem like relatively good numbers, but HBO’s head of drama Francesca Orsi told Deadline that HBO was looking into the ratings versus budget payoff for several series in their second seasons, including Winning Time. This is a different tune from what she said in 2022, when Season 2 was announced. In her statement, she said bringing Winning Time to fans was a “thrill,” adding, “This series not only tells the riveting story of the Lakers’ rise, but is also a look back at a transformative era in basketball, celebrity, and the city of Los Angeles. We can’t wait to see how this team will tell the next chapter of this dynasty.”
And in August, Jeff Pearlman, whose book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, the series is based on, wrote on X how the second season was a make it or break it moment for the series.
“I’m telling you–the future of ‘Winning Time’ hangs in the balance. We need viewers. The strikes are crippling. Please spread the word. Season 2 is amazing. But…HBO is big on #s,” he wrote on the social media platform.