Entertainment

Everything We Know About HBO's Series on the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers

It's showtime.

pat riley, magic johnson, lakers
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

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. It's still a ways off from premiering, but the more we know, the more excited we get. 

Who is behind this series? 

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 it 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."

Who is in the 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, while 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. Another famously tall person, Bo Burnham, director of Eighth Grade, is Larry Bird of the Lakers' rivals, the Celtics. Michael Chiklis will coach him as the Celtics' 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. 
 

When will it premiere? 

A pilot has already been shot, but the full series has yet to go into production. It seems likely it won't hit any of HBO's platforms until 2022. 
 

Does it have a title yet? 

Nope. It's still known as the "Untitled Lakers Project."

Check back—we'll be updating this story as more information becomes available.

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