Jason Segel has joined HBO’s still-untitled series about the 1980s L.A. Lakers. Segel will play Paul Westhead, head coach from 1979-1981, who oversaw the Lakers’ 1980 NBA championship win that kicked off the “Showtime” era.
Per the official description, Segel’s Westhead will be portrayed as “a Shakespeare professor” who “leaves grading papers behind to be assistant coach of the Lakers. In Los Angeles, Westhead steps into a drama straight off the Bard’s page (of which he is fond of quoting).”
Having coached college basketball in the 1960s and ’70s, Westhead was hired as assistant coach at the Lakers under Jack McKinney in 1979. He was named interim head coach after McKinney was injured in a bicycle accident, ultimately coaching the Lakers to victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at the 1980 NBA finals. Unfortunately, the Lakers were defeated during the 1981 playoffs, and Westhead was subsequently fired early in the third season — a decision widely believed to have been engineered by Magic Johnson — and replaced with Pat Riley.
Westhead went on to a variety of NBA and college coaching jobs, including at the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets.
Based on the Jeff Pearlman book “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” the untitled show will dramatize the professional and personal lives of the team, described in the series logline as “one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties — a team that defined its era, both on and off the court.”
Adam McKay is director and executive producer on the series, which is written by Max Borenstein. Jim Hecht, Jason Shuman and Kevin Messick of McKay’s production company also executive produce alongside Scott Stephens and co-EP Rodney Barnes.
Jason Clarke stars as Jerry West, the “cantankerous tortured genius of basketball” and one-time Lakers general manager. John C. Reilly will play former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, with Quincy Isaiah and Solomon Hughes as former Lakers legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, respectively. Adrien Brody will play legendary Lakers coach Pat Riley, who led the team to four NBA championships in the ’80s. And Michael Chiklis will play Red Auerbach, the legendary coach-turned-front office executive for the Lakers’ bitter rival, the Boston Celtics.
Additional cast members include Sally Field as Jessie Buss, Hadley Robinson as Jeanie Buss, Spencer Garrett as legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn, Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper and Kirk Bovill as former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.