The trailer for the new HBO series “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,” about the 1980s Showtime Lakers dropped, and it’s a doozy. The series about the rise of the Lakers, created by Adam McKay (“The Big Short,” “Vice,” “Succession”), will debut on HBO in March 2022.
McKay directed the pilot episode. The cast features John C. O’Reilly playing Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and Adrien Brody as head coach Pat Riley. Newcomer Quincy Isaiah was tapped to play the role of Magic Johnson, while Solomon Hughes plays Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The “Winning Time” cast also includes Gaby Hoffman, Jason Seigel, Jason Clarke, Sally Field, and Hadley Robinson.
The trailer, which reminds me of “Boogie Nights” meets the NBA, begins with Buss (O’Reilly) speaking directly to the camera.
“There are two things in this world that make me believe in God: sex and basketball.”
Straight up, the NBA and everyone involved with the Lakers doesn’t want you to watch this series, which blurs the lines of 1980s cocaine culture, celebrity, and professional sports in Tinseltown, which means, I can’t wait to see it. March 2022 can’t come soon enough.
Check out the teaser trailer for the new series on the Lakers.
80s Showtime Lakers on HBO
The series is based on “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” a book written by Jeff Pearlman.
Pearlman’s book chronicled the rise and fall of the 1980s Showtime Lakers, which began when they drafted Magic Johnson out of Michigan State. Johnson teamed up with an aging and ornery Abdul-Jabbar to win multiple NBA championships for the Lakers, which also helped put the NBA on the map as a bona fide part of American sports entertainment.
In the late 1970s, the NBA had financial problems, poor attendance, and a terrible TV contract. Even the NBA playoffs were broadcast on tape delay. The NBA lagged behind the NFL, MLB, boxing, and even the NHL in the late 1970s. But, the rise of the Lakers and their budding rivalry with the Boston Celtics generated an entirely new fanbase. By the late 1980s, the NBA emerged as top-notch entertainment thanks to the Lakers.
Forty years later, McKay is here to tell the behind-the-scenes drama about the team that started it all.
McKay/Ferrell break up over Buss
The casting of O’Reilly as Buss actually fractured a long-standing friendship and partnership between McKay and comedic actor Will Ferrell. The two started their own production company called Gary Sanchez Productions (side note: it has nothing to do with NY Yankees catcher of the same name). If you watch “Succession” on HBO, then you’re familiar with the name of the production company that appears in the credits.
Ferrell had become increasingly upset that McKay passed him over for roles in their own production company. It began with a snub in “Vice,” then again with “Succession,” when Ferrell wasn’t cast in either project. Ferrell doesn’t have the best on-set reputation, which is the main reason he was passed over in other projects that didn’t involve McKay.
This growing rift between McKay and Ferrell had been blowing up in the Hollywood gossip rags for the past couple of weeks after the story originally broke in a Vanity Fair article.
McKay leaving Ferrell out of “Winning Time” was the final straw because Ferrell is a life-long Lakers fanatic. Ferrell desperately wanted to play Buss. Instead, McKay tapped Ferrell’s best friend, O’Reilly, for the role. McKay made a poor decision and didn’t reject Ferrell directly. Instead, Ferrell heard he was edged out by O’Reilly from O’Reilly himself. The poor communication severed Ferrell and McKay’s friendship and imploded their business partnership.