As Stimpson J. Cat would say whenever The Muddy Mudskipper Show would hit the airwaves, "Don't let it start! Don't let it start!"
Yes, you can probably tell by that arcane reference that Next TV's Los Angeles office is a little geeked up for HBO Max's biographical series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, which recounts the late Jerry Buss' purchase of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the subsequent events that kickstarted the transformation of the team and the broader NBA from stodgy, niche, third-tier pro sports entities into star-powered global phenoms.
Our early observations of the 10-part Season 1 of the series, which premieres in March, from watching the first trailer:
> We're not sure at all if actor Quincy Isaiah has the handles to pull off the portrayal of the Magic Man himself, Ervin Magic Johnson, the player taken No. 1 by Buss in his first draft and who was most responsible for manifesting the owner's vision for a thrilling pro basketball team. And executive producer Adam McKay seems to be telling anyone in the celebrity media who will listen about how pulling the role of Jerry Buss out of Will Ferrell's hands and giving it to John C. Reilly ruined a lifelong friendship and professional partnership. But Reilly looks meant to play the roll of the USC chemistry professor turned real-estate tycoon turned playboy sports owner.
> McKay seems to use little known talent for big key player roles, such as Hall of Fame Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Solomon Hughes) and All Star guard Michael Cooper (Delante Desouza). Notably, however, the part of Norm Nixon, the guard eventually usurped by Magic, only to be ignominiously offloaded to the downtrodden L.A. Clippers in return for future Lakers legend Byron Scott, is played by Nixon's son, DeVaughn Nixon. And rival Celtics legend Larry Bird gets played by Bo Burnham.
> But man, the Lakers front office, circa-1980, gets some star power, with Adrian Brody playing slicked-back, four-time NBA Champion head coach Pat Riley, and Jason Segel portraying the one-time-champion coach, Paul Westhead, who was also shoved aside by the quietly ruthless Magic to make room for Riley. Oh, and there's Zero Dark Thirty's Jason Clarke in the role of "The Logo" himself, aka "Zeke from Cabin Creek," legendary former Lakers HOF guard and GM, Jerry West.
> Not much is seen in the trailer of the Buss children, Jimmy Buss (played by McCabe Slye) and current-day Lakers chief Jeanie Buss (Hadley Robinson), who may have saved the franchise when she wrestled it away from Jimmy back in 2016. But the infighting and intrigue in recent years between the pair could spawn a sequel series worthy of HBO's Succession down the road.
Here's that trailer:
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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