Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty gears up for game time

Los Angeles, California - HBO's forthcoming series Winning Time will showcase Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss' legendary transformation of the team that made them championship contenders. And it's almost game time.

John C. Reilly (l.) and Quincy Isaiah (r.) attended the premiere of HBO's Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
John C. Reilly (l.) and Quincy Isaiah (r.) attended the premiere of HBO's Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty in Los Angeles on Wednesday.  © Collage: Imago/ZUMA Wire

With the dynamic duo that is director Adam McKay and actor John C. Reilly, it's hard not to have high hopes for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, which debuts this Sunday.

They've also teamed up with Hollywood heavyweights to join Reilly onscreen, like Sally Field, Adrien Brody, Jason Clark, and Jason Segel.

In addition to the A-list roster of talent, the show unusually features a large cast of newcomers. Quincy Isaiah will play basketball royalty Magic Johnson, while Solomon Hughes is slated to portray all-star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They're joined by Tamera Tomakili, Sean Patrick Small, Ja’Quan Cole, Jimel Atkins, Newton Mayenge, and Jon Young, to name a few.

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While the show has had its fair share of behind-the-scenes drama in bringing the show to the screen – with some disapproval from the athletes and celebrities in its sphere – it's shaping up to be the three-pointer of new shows to watch this season.

Some are "not looking forward to it"

Winning Time's co-creator Jim Hecht (l.), director Adam McKay (c.), and co-writer Jeff Pearlman (r.) attended the series' premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Winning Time's co-creator Jim Hecht (l.), director Adam McKay (c.), and co-writer Jeff Pearlman (r.) attended the series' premiere in Los Angeles on Wednesday.  © Collage: IMAGO/Starface & ZUMA Wire

Winning Time would cease to exist if it weren't for Jim Hecht, who is the co-creator, writer, and executive producer of the 10-episode series.

Based on Jeff Pearlman's 2014 book, Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, the series aims to highlight the backstory of creating the championship caliber team.

Though Hecht and Pearlman shared a similar vision for the series, they struggled to land the backing needed to get the project off the ground. Until the duo contacted producer Kevin Messick, that is. Despite not being a basketball fanatic, he had a crucial connection with baseball enthusiast and director extraordinaire McKay – who helmed Netflix's Don't Look Up, released earlier this year.

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, once McKay got involved, doors that had been slammed for the series' creation began to swing wide open.

Yet, not everyone has welcomed the show with open arms, considering the basketball legends on whom it's based, Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, have both publicly spoken out against it.

In December, Johnson reportedly said he was "not looking forward to it," and had no intention of tuning into the series that depicts his come up as a rookie with the Lakers.

Abdul-Jabbar's disapproval of the show stems from the lack of player or personnel involvement in its creation, telling Puck, "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."

This, along with some off-screen drama between McKay and longtime collaborator actor Will Ferrell – who he failed to mention the series to when casting Reilly – have slightly clouded the series' debut.

"I should have called [Ferrell] and I didn’t," McKay told Puck. "And Reilly did, of course, because Reilly, he’s a stand-up guy."

The lack of communication between McKay and Ferrell led to a fallout between the two, who have been famously linked in business and in friendship, that has yet to be repaired.

The series has had other bumps in the road as well, including the departure of star comedian Bo Burnham last year.

Despite the heavy lifting that has come with bringing it to life, there's still much to be excited for regarding the new series, and we can't wait to see the love for the Lakers unfold.

The first season of Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty debuts Sunday at 9 PM EST on HBO Max.

Cover photo: Collage: Imago/ZUMA Wire

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