Winning Time Magic Johnson portrayed in HBO’s Winning Time, screenshot via HBO

The critically-acclaimed Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty will not go beyond two seasons. HBO has canceled the series on the 1980’s Los Angeles Lakers. TV Line reported that the show was axed just before its second season finale on Sunday. With the cancellation, the season two finale becomes the series finale.

The series was based on Jeff Pearlman’s book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. Winning Time’s first season looked at the Lakers’ resurgence and its 1980 NBA Championship. The show was subsequently renewed for a second season and it focused on the rivalry with the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics between 1981 and 1984. It premiered last month on HBO and streamed on Max.

However, as the season progressed, Pearlman was worried that the show would not be renewed for a third season and implored people to watch to increase the series’ ratings to ensure its return. Those appeals apparently did not work and HBO has decided to move on.

According to Vulture’s Josef Adalian, the series producers were informed early in the second season that Winning Time would not likely be renewed. That gave the producers time to edit an alternative ending to have that serve as the series finale.

SPOILER ALERT: The now-series finale had the Celtics winning the 1984 NBA Finals and there was a montage showing that the Lakers would get their revenge in two out of the next three Championship Series. But with the cancellation, viewers won’t be able to see how Winning Time would have portrayed the Lakers championships in 1985 and 1987.

Our Michael Grant gave Winning Time a favorable review stating the show’s storytelling was entertaining and casting was a triumph.

Quincy Isaiah played Magic Johnson with John C. Reilly portraying Lakers owner Jerry Buss and Adrian Brody as fabled Lakers coach Pat Riley. Jason Clarke played Lakers general manager Jerry West. West himself did not appreciate the performance and he demanded a retraction of the portrayal. This season added Patrick Small as Larry Bird.

It’s not known if another network or streaming service will pick up Winning Time. For now, viewers will have to do with two seasons.

[TV Line]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.