Everything We Know About HBO's 'Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty'

The show about the 1980s Lakers premieres this spring.

winning time lakers

Imagine a series that combines Succession with The Last Dance. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, good news: A show just like that is on the way. HBO's next big flashy project is a drama about the Showtime era of the Lakers when Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ruled the court with their breakneck playing. The show, titled Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, still a ways off from premiering, but the more we know, the more excited we get. 

Who is behind Winning Time

The big name on board is Adam McKay, the director who pivoted from Will Ferrell comedies to Oscar-nominated films about recent history. But most crucially for our purposes here: McKay is also an executive producer on Succession, so he knows something about creating addictive TV about larger-than-life personalities for HBO. The pilot is written by Max Borenstein, who created The Terror and most recently scripted the monster fight in Godzilla vs. Kong. Borenstein is also going to be an executive producer. 

So what, exactly, will Winning Time be about? 

The series will dig into the "Showtime" Lakers, who reigned in the 1980s, led by owner Jerry Buss, coach Pat Riley, and stars like Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar. Borenstein pitched it in an interview with Collider as The Crown with basketball. "It's a series, but obviously, its limitations are that it's inspired and based on a true story, but in a sense, structurally, it has [a] resemblance to The Crown," he said. "It's a dynasty story. It's the story of an American dynasty. In this case, because it's an American dynasty, it's not a monarchy, it's a story about celebrity and culture and entertainment as [seen] through the prism of the NBA and the prism of the Showtime Lakers."

winning time

Who is in the Winning Time cast? 

This is where things get fun. The casting, let's just say, is inspired. McKay's frequent collaborator John C. Reilly is on board as Buss, which is actually the reason for the friend breakup between McKay and Will Ferrell. More on that here.  Meanwhile, Oscar-winner Adrien Brody was cast as Riley. Speaking of Academy Award winners, Sally Field is playing Buss's mother, Jessie. Jason Clarke is general manager Jerry West, who will be one of the protagonists.

As for the basketball stars? Quincy Isaiah is on board as Johnson, and Solomon Hughes, a former Harlem Globetrotter, is Abdul-Jabbar. Norm Nixon's son DeVaughn is playing his dad. Newcomer Delante Desouza is Michael Cooper. Notably tall actor, Jason Segel, is Paul Westhead, who Riley ended up replacing as coach, while Michael Chiklis will coach the rival Celtics as Red Auerbach. The great actor Rob Morgan will play Johnson's father, Ervin Sr. Holding down the fort in the Forum's office will be Booksmart alum Molly Gordon as Linda Zafrani. You can see the rest of the cast over at The Hollywood Reporter; other key participants include Sarah Ramos as Abdul-Jabbar's then-girlfriend Cheryl Pistono, Gaby Hoffmann as Forum president Claire Rothman, and Tamera Tomakili as Johnson's future wife Cookie. 

While it was initially reported that Bo Burnham would be playing Larry Bird, he was replaced by Sean Patrick Small, who is actually more of a dead ringer for the hoops star. 

click to play video

Is there a teaser for Winning Time?

Yes! HBO released a very groovy trailer that heavily features Riley and Isaiah, and also includes a shot of Hughes' Abdul-Jabbar filming Airplane! 

click to play video

Is there a full-length trailer for Winning Time

Yes. Do your comb-over and take a gander at the full trailer, above, which HBO dropped in mid-February. The clip is a lot more extensive than the previously released teaser, showing Buss' putting together the team from scratch and Magic Johnson's origin, when his mom didn't want to hear the nickname "Magic" in the house. We also get a more complete look at the entire cast. It's showtime, baby!

When does Winning Time premiere? 

Get ready to hit the court. Winning Time premieres on Sunday, March 6. HBO announced the premiere date about a month out from the premiere in early February. 

How many episodes is Winning Time?

The show is confirmed for 10 episodes, so get ready for some appointment television, come springtime. Like all HBO shows, it'll air weekly on Sundays, with the option to stream the series on HBO Max.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.