‘Winning Time’ Canceled by HBO After Season 2 Ratings Drop

Sean Patrick Small and Quincy Isaiah in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty season 2. (Credit: HBO)

It’s game over for Winning Time after two seasons on HBO.

The announcement followed Sunday night’s season 2 finale, leaving fans surprised.

Co-creator Max Borenstein expressed his feelings about the cancellation on X/Twitter, writing: “Not the ending that we had in mind. But nothing but gratitude and love.”

Director Salli Richardson took to Instagram to reflect on the show’s conclusion. “When you give it everything you’ve got, you can have no regrets. I hope you enjoy the last episode of @winningtimehbo,” she shared.

Richardson added working on the show was fulfilling.

“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.”

Related: ‘Winning Time’ Season 2 Trailer Takes on Magic Johnson and Larry Bird Rivalry (Video)

Winning Time premiered in March 2022, and chronicled the early 1980s rise of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The first season focused on Jerry Buss’ inaugural year as team owner and Magic Johnson’s rookie season from 1979-80. The second season explored the four-year period following those events.

The final episode of the series featured the highly anticipated first matchup between Magic Johnson and the Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird.

The series was co-created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, drawing inspiration from Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.

Winning Time featured a large ensemble cast, including Solomon Hughes, Adrien Brody, Quincy Isaiah, Sean Patrick Small, John C. Reilly, Jason Clarke, Jason Segel, Gabby Hoffman, Hadley Robinson, and DeVaugh Nixon.

While the show had a devoted following, the second season — which premiered in August 2023 — saw a big ratings drop. Deadline reported the second season premiered with 629,000 viewers on HBO and HBO Max, down significantly from the 901,000 viewers who watched the show’s first episode.

The numbers improved slightly as season 2 progressed, but not enough to save the show.