LOS ANGELES (CNS) — “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” a 10-episode drama series about the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, will premiere at 9 p.m. Sunday night on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
“It’s a show about directing,” co-creator, executive producer and showrunner Max Bornstein said during the CTAM Winter press tour last month. “It’s a time when sport has become entertainment.”
The first episode details Jerry Buss’ (John C. Reilly) attempt to complete his purchase of the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke, then Coach Jerry West’s objection to the Lakers using the first pick in the NBA draft of 1979 on Magic Johnson out. from the belief that at 6ft 9in tall, his dribbling would be high, causing many turnovers.
It also includes a recreation of the scene from the classic 1980 motion picture comedy “Airplane!” where a boy visiting the cockpit realizes co-pilot Roger Murdock is really Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom he thinks is the greatest, but whose father thinks he doesn’t work hard enough on defense except during the playoffs.
The episode is directed by Adam McKay, who has directed such films as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” and “Step Brothers.” He is also one of the executive producers of the series.
The cast also includes Quincy Isaiah as Johnson, Jason Clarke as West, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley, Jason Segel as Paul Westhead, DeVaughn Nixon as his father Norm Nixon, Solomon Hughes as Abdul-Jabbar, and Sally Field as Buss’ mother Jessie. The series is based on the 2014 book, “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s” by Jeff Pearlman.
Finding actors to portray Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar “was the toughest casting challenge I’ve ever encountered,” McKay said.
“It was crazy, and to this day I can’t believe Quincy and Dr. Hughes came to us,” McKay said. “These guys can play ball and they’re really talented actors.”
Isaiah’s only previous film or TV credit was the 2018 short, “Corporate Coffee.”
6-foot-11 Hughes had never played before “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.” He played basketball for the University of California from 1998 to 2002, averaging 6.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 121 games for the Golden Bears, including 52 starts. The former student of Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.
Hughes holds a doctorate in higher education research and policy studies from the University of Georgia and has taught at Duke and Stanford.