Meet the Cast of HBO's 1980s L.A. Lakers Drama

The pilot, executive produced by Adam McKay, chronicles the team's 1980s dynasty led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Foc Kan/WireImage; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Courtesy of HBO; Van Johnson Company
From left: Jason Clarke, John C. Reilly, Quincy Isaiah, Solomon Hughes

HBO is adding a little Showtime to its programming.

The premium cable outlet is developing a drama based on the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, which went by the "Showtime" moniker during a decade that saw them win five NBA championships. The series will delve into the professional and personal lives of the team and its management as they created one of sports' most revered dynasties and a team that defined its era, both on and off the court.

The as-yet-untitled pilot will be executive produced and directed by Adam McKay (Succession, Vice). Also executive producing are McKay's partner Kevin Messick, writer Max Borenstein, co-writer of the story Jim Hecht, Jason Shuman and Scott Stephens. Rodney Barnes is a co-EP. The effort is inspired by Jeff Pearlman's book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.

Below, meet the cast of the series and their real-life counterparts. Bookmark this page as The Hollywood Reporter will update it with the latest castings and status of the project.

Jason Clarke as Jerry West

Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, HBO's Catherine the Great) will play Lakers legend West, a 14-time NBA All-Star during his playing days and who became the team's general manager in 1982. West is 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: himself. Clarke is repped by WME, Robert Stein Management and attorney Carlos Goodman.

John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss

Frequent McKay collaborator Reilly (Step Brothers, Talladega Nights) will play the Lakers owner, who bought the team, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the Forum in Inglewood in 1979. Buss is a self-made millionaire whose success has only amplified his proclivity for risk. He 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 he loves most. Michael Shannon was originally cast as Buss, but exited the project due to creative differences. Reilly is repped by WME, Peg Donegan and attorney Michael Gendler.

Quincy Isaiah as Earvin 'Magic' Johnson

Newcomer Isaiah, a recent drama school graduate from Muskegon, Michigan (about 100 miles from Johnson's hometown of Lansing), will play the Lakers point guard. As gifted in the game as he is magnetic in life, Magic's fast-paced, captivating play revolutionizes basketball even as his style of celebrity transforms the social fabric of the culture. Isaiah is repped by CAA, Impact Talent Group and attorney Terrence Williams.

Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Hughes is making his professional acting debut in the series. The 6-foot-11 former captain of the University of California, Berkeley, basketball team played professionally in the USBL and ABA and in Mexico's pro league and was also a Harlem Globetrotter; he has a doctorate in higher education from the University of Georgia. Hughes will play Lakers center (and future Hollywood Reporter columnist) Abdul-Jabbar, whose intelligence, talent and political activism have made him a living legend but whose 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 Magic Johnson sparks his gradual journey to open up to those around him, a quest that re-inspires his love of the game. Hughes is repped by The Van Johnson Company and Barnes Morris.

DeVaughn Nixon as Norm Nixon

The common last name is not a coincidence: DeVaughn Nixon (Hulu's Runaways, Disney's Prom) is Norm's son, born at the height of the Showtime era and just before his dad was traded from the Lakers to the then San Diego Clippers. In the series, Norm Nixon is a debonair playboy who overcame insurmountable odds to become the All-Star point guard for the Lakers. He expertly maneuvers the complexities of NBA stardom, until talented rookie Magic Johnson arrives in Los Angeles. DeVaughn Nixon is repped by SDB Partners, Elevate Entertainment and Ginsberg Daniels.

Molly Gordon as Linda Zafrani

Gordon (Booksmart, Animal Kingdom) plays Linda Zafrani, whose intelligence and savvy have earned her a position in the office of the Forum. The arrival of new ownership in Jerry Buss and his ambitious daughter Jeanie requires her to navigate a complicated web of personal and professional relationships. (Zafrani would later marry former Laker Kurt Rambis and remains a key figure in the team's front office.) Gordon is repped by UTA and Burstein Company.

Rob Morgan as Earvin Johnson Sr.

Magic Johnson's father worked for decades as both a garbage man and on an automobile assembly line to provide a better life for his children. When his son is presented with a lucrative NBA contract, the differences in how Earvin Sr. and his namesake handle privilege, opportunity and attention become obvious. Morgan (Stranger Things, This Is Us) is repped by Authentic Talent & Literary Management.

Spencer Garrett as Chick Hearn

Legendary Lakers play-by-play announcer Hearn coined such now-common basketball terms as slam dunk, airball and no-look pass. His colorful language and "world's eye view" of the game were so essential to fans that he became one of just a few announcers to lead simultaneous radio and TV broadcasts. Garrett (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Apple's For All Mankind) is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and Luber Roklin Entertainment.

Kirk Bovill as Donald Sterling

The now-infamous former owner of the L.A. Clippers will be played by Bovill (Just Mercy, McKay's Vice). In the 1980s, he was known for his vast L.A. real-estate holdings and stingy management of the Clippers. Reminiscent of another famous '80s Donald, Sterling pursues the trappings of fame but lacks tact, empathy and grace. Bovill is repped by DPN Talent and Bullett Management.

Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper

Desouza makes his on-screen debut in the pilot, having graduated from the University of Maryland and studied under Robert F. Chew (The Wire) at Baltimore's Arena Players. Lakers shooting guard Michael Cooper, despite having been drafted a year earlier, is a "rookie" alongside Magic Johnson after recovering from a devastating knee injury. Anxious and unsure of himself, he's nonetheless determined to prove his worth to the team. Desouza is repped by Avanti Talent Management and Take 3 Talent.