Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) has been one of the more quiet elements of HBO’s new show Winning Time, but the latest episode finally put him in the spotlight. Though most actors tend to get advice from the actual people that they’re playing, it seems that the real Abdul-Jabbar didn’t want anything to do with the biopic series.
Talking to Variety, Hughes revealed that he attempted to talk get Abdul-Jabbar’s input, but ‘his team’ wasn’t interested. Hughes explains, “I did attempt to reach out. His team was not interested, and I absolutely respect that. I’ve been a lifelong fan of who he is. Obviously, there could have been some convenience to getting an opportunity to chat with him.”
Even if Hughes didn’t get access to Abdul-Jabbar, he still managed to do his own research. “That said, Kareem has been generous with regards to how much he’s shared about his life,” explained Hughes, “I’ve been reading about Kareem since I was a kid. [His autobiography] “Giant Steps” is one of the first big books that I read growing up. In addition to everything that he’s written about himself, there’s what other people who have played with him wrote about him. And, in this YouTube era, there’s an abundance of footage of old interviews and game tapes. I can only imagine what it would feel like to have someone portraying you or writing feel a TV show about you, but what Kareem has written about himself and produced about himself, I definitely benefited from.”
We don’t know how much more episodes will be focusing on Abdul-Jabbar in the future, seeing that the main character in the series looks to be Magic Johnson, but now that they’ve kind of released the genie from the bottle, we should expect the character to get some more exposure down the line.
So far, Winning Time has been having a great run of episodes, and it’s been a thrill (even for non-basketball fans) to watch just exactly how the Lakers became a dynasty. The cast is solid, and the style is just so distinct, you can’t help but tune in.
Catch Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty Sundays on HBO Max.