The outrageous story of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Showtime era, which lasted from 1979 to approximately 1991, is finally getting the prestige drama treatment from HBO, with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Adam McKay (The Big Short, Nice White Parents) at the helm, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The yet-untitled series is allegedly inspired by the 2014 book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by famed sports writer Jeff Pearlman (The Bad Guys Won, Football for a Buck), via The Hollywood Reporter. Its title refers to a few of the team’s most iconic personalities– Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Pat Riley, all of whom will be portrayed in the series by grade-A acting talent.
Johnson (Empire), the Lakers’ point guard, will be portrayed by drama school grad Quincy Isaiah (Corporate Coffee). During his time with the Lakers, the Basketball Hall of Fame inductee and one-time Olympic athlete was named MVP three times during the 1980s and averaged a yet-unmatched twelve assists per game across six NBA Finals appearances, ESPN reports. Johnson retired from the NBA in 1991 at age 32 following his much-publicized positive HIV diagnosis, effectively closing the book on the Showtime era.
Abdul-Jabbar (Airplane!), the team’s center, will be played by Harlem Globetrotter and Stanford lecturer Dr. Solomon Hughes. Abdul-Jabbar is the all-time leader in league MVP awards, points and Win Shares, as reported by ESPN, who called him the second-greatest NBA player in history in their 2016 ranking, just a couple of spots ahead of Magic Johnson. Abdul-Jabbar retired from the league in 1989 at age 42. His final three seasons consisted of three Finals appearances and two championship wins.
Superstar coach Riley (Glory Road) will be brought to life onscreen by Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody (Houdini). Before he became known nationwide for his confident leadership style, Riley had actually been a shooting guard and small forward on the Los Angeles Lakers and contributed to the team’s 1972 championship win under coach Bill Sharman (The Way It Was). During his Lakers tenure, Riley actually faced off against then-Milwaukee Buck Abdul-Jabbar during the Western Conference Finals, according to Basketball Reference.
Stepping into the shoes of Lakers point guard Norm Nixon is his real-life son DeVaughn Nixon (Runaways), whose stepmother is none other than Globe Globe-winning multi-hyphenate Debbie Allen (Grey’s Anatomy), as reported by Essence.
The role of Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss (Poker After Dark), which had originally been given to two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road), will instead be played by John C. Reilly (Moonbase 8), according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Showtime era’s snappy name and guiding concept of generating an aura of spectacle around professional basketball were both allegedly devised by Buss himself, S.F. Gate reports.