Winning Time season 2 was a slam dunk with audiences – so, of course, Max canceled it

Jamaal Wilkes and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar look upset in the LA Lakers locker room in Winning Time on HBO
Winning Time's basketball stars won't get another shot at the WBA championship title. (Image credit: Warrick Page/HBO)

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty has been cancelled after its critically-acclaimed two-season run.

The sports drama series, which aired on Max in the US, Sky in the UK, and Binge in Australia, won't return to the basketball court for a third runout. That's according to multiple news outlets, including The Hollywood Reporter (THR), with the announcement coming minutes after the show's season 2 finale drew to a close yesterday (September 17).

Taking to X (formerly Twitter) in the aftermath of its cancellation, co-creator Max Borenstein lamented Winning Time's pre-emptive end, before expressing his thanks for those who tuned into the series he helmed alongside Jim Hecht.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), which owns one of the world's best streaming services in Max, as well as HBO Entertainment – one of five production companies behind Winning Time – hasn't commented on the show's end. We've reached out to WBD for an official quote and we'll update this article if we hear back.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty wasn't one of the best Max shows, but it had a devout global audience. Indeed, the series, which was based on Jeff Pearlman's book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, was well-received by fans and critics alike. Per review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the show's two seasons are certified 'fresh', with the first installment landing an 85% positive rating and its follow-up earning an 83% score.

Despite being well received, though, Winning Time doesn't appear to have been popular enough to earn another title shot. In mid-August, Pearlman himself suggested that the series needed a huge viewership surge to stand a chance of being renewed but, clearly, that call-to-arms didn't help it gain the traction it needed. In the hours since its cancellation, numerous industry writers and producers, including Blumehouse CEO Jason Blum, plus Invincible co-creator Robert Kirkham, have slammed WBD's decision to consign the show to the scrap heap.

Winning Time wasn't without its criticisms, however, with former Los Angeles Lakers superstars and coaches hitting out at the HBO series for its historical inaccuracies. Upon its initial release in March 2022, former Lakers general manager Jerry West penned a legal letter to HBO and series producer Adam McKay, calling on them to retract the "false and defamatory portrayal" of West in the show. 

In response, HBO told THR that the WBD subsidiary "has a long history of producing compelling content drawn from actual facts and events that are fictionalized in part for dramatic purposes. Winning Time is not a documentary and has not been presented as such. However, the series and its depictions are based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing, and HBO stands resolutely behind our talented creators and cast who have brought a dramatization of this epic chapter in basketball history to the screen."

Winning Time is the latest HBO-developed series to be canceled in 2023. Detective period drama Perry Mason was also canned by HBO after two seasons, while Gossip Girl, Titans, Doom Patrol, Pennyworth, Avenue 5, and South Side have all been unceremoniously dumped over the past nine months.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

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