HBO Casts Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Their Showtime Lakers Series


HBO has cast the actors who will play Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in their untitled pilot about the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. Quincy Isaiah will take on the role of Johnson, while Solomon Hughes will play Abdul-Jabbar.

Johnson’s character is described as being “as gifted in the game as he is magnetic in his life. His fast-paced, captivating style of play revolutionizes the sport of basketball even as his style of celebrity transforms the social fabric of the culture.”

As for Abdul-Jabbar, his character’s “intelligence, talent, and political activism have made him a living legend but his 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 Johnson sparks his gradual journey to open up to those around him; a quest that re-inspires his love of the game.”

The two athletes helped lead the Lakers to multiple NBA Championships and they ended up setting a lot of records on their basketball journey. They are considered to be two of the greatest players in the history of basketball. I don’t watch a lot of sports these days, but when I was a kid I loved watching basketball and it was great watching these guys play together on the Lakers!

I’m not familiar with the actors cast in these roles, but thanks to Variety, we have some background info. “Isaiah is an actor from Muskegon, Michigan and a recent drama school graduate. Hughes has 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 played professionally in the USBL, the ABA and the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional Mexico, and was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. He attended graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Georgia, where he earned a PhD in Higher Education.”

Isaiah and Hughes join the previously cast Jason Clarke, who will play Jerry West, and John C. Reilly, who will play Jerry Buss.

The project is based on Jeff Pearlman’s nonfiction book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. It follows “the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties — a team that won five NBA titles and defined its era, both on and off the court.”

The series is being written by Max Borenstein, and it will be produced by Adam McKay who is directing the pilot episode.

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