Why was ‘Winning Time’ canceled by HBO? Lesser known details about the show’s demise

Mary Raleigh
19/09/2023

The Season 2 finale of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty also became the series finale after HBO announced its cancellation on Monday. HBO decided not to renew the television show for a third season. But why was Winning Time canceled?

Winning Time' Season Two: Get a first look at the new trailerAccording to Josef Adalian of Vulture, HBO’s top brass already told the show’s producers that it might not get picked for next season. Network executives are disappointed with its ratings for Season 2 despite the strong reaction from critics and hoops fans online.

Winning Time: Rise of the Lakers Dynasty' Renewed for Season 2 at HBO -  Variety“They’re very transparent,” executive producer Kevin Messick said. “The Sunday-night viewing is the smallest percentage of how many people ultimately watch a given episode. It builds over time. A lot of people like to wait and binge more of it so that they can watch it all together, or sometimes they’ll wait for the whole thing to air. They shared all of the information, as they’ve always done on our shows, week to week.”

The series finale of Winning Time aired on Monday night on HBO, as the network made the cancelation announcement almost simultaneously. The show’s producers have already hinted about the possibility of cancelation and it came true just as the second season ended.

In the same interview with Vulture, Kevin Messick discussed the possibility of shopping the show’s third season on a different network. Messick is open to the idea and won’t be opposed to producing another LA Lakers-centric television program.

“I think the plan is this: If the universe wants more Lakers, the universe knows where to reach us,” Messick said.”


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How did ‘Winning Time’ end?

Winning Time ended with the Boston Celtics winning the 1984 NBA championship over the LA Lakers in a grueling seven-game series. Quincy Isaiah’s Magic Johnson sulked into the shower in defeat while Led Zeppelin’s What Is and What Should Not Be plays in the background.

It was the Season 2 ending shown on the early screening but HBO added an alternative ending involving John C. Reilly’s Jerry Buss and Hadley Robinson’s Jeanie Buss. The scene was the passing of the torch from father to daughter which is true to this day.Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

The producers were honest about the uncertainty of the show when Reilly and Robinson shot the scene back in January before the SAG-AFTRA strike.

“We shot that in January,” Kevin Messick told Vulture. “It was a new scene created to directly address the question that HBO gave us. Then there’s an epilogue that runs with shots from the show that is, I think, powerful and emotional. It charts the successes of everybody that you’ve met along the way.”

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