“Winning Time” already has one surprisingly big fan
LeBron James is pumped for HBO’s upcoming series from Adam McKay about the ’80s-era version of his team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“WOW!!!! I can’t wait for this! The myth, The man, The LEGEND! Dr. Buss and his magic man Magic Johnson!” James wrote in a Saturday tweet sharing HBO’s newly released trailer for the show “Winning Time.”
“Winning Time” will debut its 10-episode first season sometime next March. Based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” the show will dramatize the professional and personal lives of the team, described in the series logline as “one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties — a team that defined its era, both on and off the court.”
James’ enthusiasm for the series may be surprising to some amid a detailed report that the Lakers and the NBA in general aren’t fans of the project.
Per a story published by Matthew Belloni’s Puck on Monday, the depiction of then-Lakers owner Jerry Buss (played by John C. Reilly) in the pilot of “Winning Time” is that of “a misogynist party boy,” according to one source Belloni spoke with who has seen it. “
“And it’s absolutely true that the Buss family, the Lakers leadership, its ’80s-era players, and the NBA in general all absolutely hate this show,” Belloni wrote.
Along with Reilly (who got the role, which McKay said former producing partner and friend Will Ferrell wanted, in a recasting after Michael Shannon exited the project), “Winning Time” stars Jason Clarke as Jerry West, the “cantankerous tortured genius of basketball” and former longtime Lakers general manager, and Jason Segel as former Lakers coach Paul Westhead. Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes play former Lakers legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, respectively.
Additional cast members include Michael Chiklis as Red Auerbach, Sean Patrick Small as Larry Bird, Sally Field as Jessie Buss, Hadley Robinson as Jeanie Buss, Spencer Garrett as legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper, Olli Haaskivi will play Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Kirk Bovill as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Belloni asked Abdul-Jabbar for his opinion on the show, to which the NBA legend said: “While I respect other artists’ rights to choose their subjects, I think the story of the Showtime Lakers is best told by those who actually lived through it because we know exactly what happened.”
According to Belloni, Abdul-Jabbar’s manager Deborah Morales texted him she doesn’t think “anybody who has accepted a part playing any of these characters will be embraced by anyone in the NBA or any of the players or any of their friends—and I certainly hope that I never bump into anyone associated with this show.”
The NBA’s lawyers are already in contact with HBO, according to Belloni, and are “monitoring” for any use of team trademarks and logos.
Representatives for the NBA and HBO did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment Saturday.
See James’ tweet below.
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