'Winning Time' on HBO: Who Jerry West Wanted the Lakers To Draft Over Magic Johnson

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is an HBO television series that chronicles the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers.

At the helm of the show are Jerry West (played by John C. Reilly) and Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. (Quincy Isaiah), who both, in their own way, took the basketball team to new and exciting heights during the '80s.

But West had reservations about Johnson in the early stages and his doubts are played out during Season 1 Episode 2, titled "Is That All There Is?" of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.

In fact, West was not keen on drafting Johnson and had other players in mind. Newsweek has everything you need to know about West and Johnson's relationship, including who could have been drafted over Johnson.

**This article contains spoilers from Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty episode 2 "Is That All There Is?"**

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"Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" chronicles the ascent of the Los Angeles Lakers in the1980s. Pictured actor John C. Reilly as Jerry West. HBO

Who Did Jerry West Want To Draft Over Magic Johnson?

In episode two of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, West is vocal about not wanting to draft Johnson and during a golf course scene he exclaimed: "You really wanna know what's wrong with Johnson? One thing: he's too tall."

West went on to add: "He smiles too much." The Lakers executive had desires of having a "solid four" to lead the team but Johnson did not meet his requirements.

These are the players West hoped to sign over Johnson, according to the HBO television series.

Spencer Haywood

West's intentions were to swap the #1 draft pick for the #5 pick and Spencer Haywood.

However Haywood, now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, was too expensive to sign.

As a rookie in 1969-1970, he was named the American Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. He led the ABA in both scoring and rebounding during that time too.

Haywood joined the NBA in the early 1970s and by 1974-1975 he and Seattle SuperSonics coach Bill Russel made history when SuperSonics reached the playoffs for the first time in the team's history.

With five All-Star selections and four-time All-NBA selections to his name, Haywood would have likely made a good addition to the Lakers.

Sidney Moncrief

Moncrief was thought to have been West's preferred pick over Johnson, as according to Showtime, West just "wasn't fully convinced" that a 6"9' player could thrive as a point guard.

The NBA described Moncrief as "one of the top players of the 1980s". He played 10 of his 11 NBA seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.

Standing at 6-foot-4, Moncrief was known for having a spring in his legs and he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1982 and 1983.

Basketball icon Michael Jordan once told the Los Angeles Times, "When you play against Moncrief, you're in for a night of all-around basketball. He'll hound you everywhere you go, both ends of the court. You just expect it."

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HBO's "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" is based on the Lakers rise to success in the1980s. Picture on the left is Quincy Isaiah as Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. and actress Tamera Tomakili (right). HBO

Was Jerry West Against Drafting Magic Johnson?

In short, yes! As displayed on Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty the former basketball player and coach was not Johnson's biggest fan and favored other players over him.

West even went as far as to try to convince Jack Kent Cooke, the departing owner of the Lakers, not to draft Johnson.

Yet Johnson and West went on to have great success together. They won five NBA championships together and in February 2022 Johnson honored West with the Legend of the Year Award at the NBA Legends Awards.

When Did Magic Johnson Join The Los Angeles Lakers?

Johnson was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft. He is one of the most influential players in the league's history.

His accolades include five NBA Championships, NCAA Championship, Olympic gold-medal winner and NBA Most Valuable Player. He is now the Vice President of the Lakers.

Johnson got his nickname "Magic" from sportswriter Fred Stabley, Jr. after a 36-point, 18-rebound, 16-assist performance for Everett High School, which he led to a state championship in 1977.

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty is streaming exclusively on HBO Max.

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John C; Reilly pictured center plays Jerry West in "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty", a HBO sport television series following the rise of the basketball team Los Angeles Lakers. HBO