Newcomer Quincy Isaiah and former UC Berkeley basketball captain Solomon Hughes have been cast as Hall of Fame teammates Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, respectively, in Adam McKay‘s HBO drama pilot about the Showtime-era Lakers.
John C. Reilly is set to star as Lakers owner Jerry Buss, the self-made millionaire who transformed the Lakers into a basketball dynasty, sometimes at the expense of those closest to him, while Jason Clarke will co-star as Jerry West, the “cantankerous tortured genius of basketball,” per HBO. West ought to be the perfect man to build the Lakers into a dynasty, if only he could get past his own worst enemy — himself.
Johnson will be depicted as both gifted and magnetic, revolutionizing the sport of basketball with his captivating, fast-paced style of play, all while his style of celebrity transformed the social fabric of the culture.
Abdul-Jabbar will be depicted as a sensitive and intelligent political activist whose introverted nature often led him to be misunderstood, not only by the public, but by his own teammates. When Magic joins the Lakers, the rookie point guard helps re-inspire Kareem’s love of the game.
The HBO series is based on Jeff Pearlman‘s non-fiction book Showtime, which chronicled the personal and professional lives of the Showtime-era Lakers — a team that defined its era, both on and off the court. Key characters will also include coaches Pat Riley and Bill Sharman, as well as Norm Nixon and Lakers play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn.
McKay will direct the pilot and executive produce alongside Kevin Messick under McKay’s new, yet-to-be-named company. Max Borenstein will serve as writer and executive producer, while Jim Hecht will serve as co-writer and executive producer. Jason Shuman, Scott Stephens and Rodney Barnes round out the EP team. Additional casting is under way, and McKay is expected to start shooting the pilot later this month. The series was previously titled Showtime, but seeing as Showtime is also a network that counts HBO as its chief rival, it made sense to change the title rather than confuse audiences.
Isaiah is an actor from Muskegon, Michigan and a recent drama school graduate. As for Hughes, he served as the captain of the University of California Berkeley men’s basketball team, and during his junior season led the Pac-12 in field goal percentage. He also played professionally in the USBL and ABA, and served as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, though he has always enjoyed performing for friends and family.
Isaiah is represented by CAA, Impact Talent Group and attorney Terrence Williams, while Hughes is repped by the Van Johnson Company and Barnes, Morris, Klein & Yorn.