Michael Chiklis is joining HBO’s untitled series about the 1980s-era L.A. Lakers. Chiklis will play Red Auerbach, the legendary coach and front office executive for the Lakers’ bitter rival, the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics and the Lakers are one of the NBA’s most storied rivalries, meeting 12 times in the NBA Finals, including three in the 1980s. Those three matchups featured Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird.
Auerbach coached the Celtics for 16 seasons from 1950-1966, leading the team to nine championships. In the era the HBO series depicts, Auerbach is a front office executive (he was both president and general manager, though he gave up the latter title in 1984). Here’s how HBO describes his role: “When the Lakers’ rise threatens his Boston dynasty, Auerbach proves himself to be the basketball genius and cut-throat competitor of every Laker fan’s nightmares.”
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.
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.