The 1980’s Showtime Lakers were, arguably, the best basketball team ever assembled. In addition to the best players, they had the best announcer, the best owner, a charismatic coach and played in the glamour capital of the world. I can’t think of any other story more perfect for a TV series.
HBO is adding a little Showtime to its programming.
As you may or may not be aware, HBO is launching a yet untitled Showtime Lakers project pilot which is based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980’s.” This series, which chronicles the professional and personal lives of the 1980’s-era Lakers, will be an hour-long drama. John C. Reilly has been cast to play self-made millionaire and former Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. In this project, Buss “redefines American sports, celebrity, and wealth by transforming the Lakers into a dynasty, but his house of cards threatens to collapse on him – and the people that he loves most.” Michael Shannon had originally been cast in the role of Doctor Buss.
Previously, HBO announced that Jason Clarke had been cast to play Jerry West. The basketball player described as the “cantankerous tortured genius of basketball who ought to be the perfect man to build the Lakers into a dynasty – if only he can get past his own worst enemy – Jerry West.”
Also announced as part of the cast is Quincy Isaiah in the role of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Solomon Hughes starring as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Johnson character is described as being as gifted in the game as he is magnetic in his life. His fast paced, captivating style of play revolutionizes the sport of basketball even as his style of celebrity transforms the social fabric of the culture.
Abdul-Jabbar’s character is described as having intelligence, talent, and political activism that have made him a living legend. However, his introverted nature leads him to be misunderstood by not only the public, but his own teammates. He is deeply sensitive after a lifetime of betrayals, but the arrival of rookie Johnson sparks his gradual journey to open up to those around him, a quest that re-inspires his love for the game.
There’s no word yet on when the series will debut. And only time will tell if the series lives up to the book. However, any way you look at it, this is a great opportunity to learn about an era of Lakers basketball that the younger generation of Lakers fans were never able to witness.