Former NJ athlete turns to acting in controversial HBO series
When Jon Young took the mound for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights baseball team it was usually a pressuring time. Jon was a reliever and his team would call on him to take care of business in the late innings either to hold the lead or stop the bleeding of runs against a formidable opponent.
That pressure and his similar looks to the character he portrays landed him a part in the HBO series “Winning Time” which is an intense behind-the-scenes portrayal of the 80s Los Angeles Lakers.
Jon plays Brad Holland who was a reserve guard for the Lakers. Holland only played a couple of seasons with the Lakers and while Jon doesn’t have a prominent part in the series, he still gets decent screen time.
To look and be able to satisfy the audience that he was a Laker, Jon lost over 40 lbs and worked hard with an NBA guru who has trained and worked with some of basketball’s greatest players
.Jon stated that the training was grueling and rewarding in that the actors portraying a team actually felt like they were part of one as the filming continued. Most of the actors playing Lakers were college basketball players; Jon was the only baseball player.
Jon Young had a tough go growing up in Old Bridge, NJ as he lost both parents before he was a senior at Rutgers. He and his older brother Andrew formed a tight bond that would survive tough times and success. With a strong friend and fan base here in New Jersey, Jon’s brother Andrew holds viewing parties where his friends yell out every time Jon appears on the screen. As Jon tells it, there is alcohol involved.
The show already has faced some critical feedback and is not being accepted so graciously by former Lakers who played during the ’80s era depicted in the series.
Former players Magic Johnson, Kareem-Abdul –Jabbar, and former general manager Jerry West aren’t happy with the series, saying that most of the characterizations portrayed in the series have been exaggerated and they question some of the acts in the series as suspect and not true.
The series is based on a book by ESPN’s Jeff Pearlman who states that “Winning Time” is not a documentary and that the events depicted in the series are based on truths and extensive research.
There are 10 episodes in season one and HBO has renewed the series for a season two with a soon-to-be release date.
It’s nice to see a Jersey guy get a good break. Good luck Jon.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.