“There are two things in this world that make me believe in God: Sex and basketball,” Buss says in the preview of the Adam McKay-directed Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. Buss’ dreams of turning the game of basketball into an entertainment empire is quickly realized when, with the first pick in the 1979 draft, the team selects Earvin “Magic” Johnson, played in the series by newcomer Quincy Isaiah.
The all-star cast also features Adrien Brody and Jason Segal as Lakers coaches Pat Riley and Paul Westphal, Jason Clarke as NBA legend and Lakers exec Jerry West, Sally Field and Hadley Robinson as Jessie and Jeanie Buss, Rob Morgan as Earvin Johnson Sr., and actor DeVaughn Nixon portraying his father, Lakers guard Norm Nixon.
Even before the series airs on HBO Max in March, it has already gained a reputation for ending the partnership between McKay and Will Ferrell, as the Anchorman director and star and former producing partners had a falling out over McKay’s decision to replace Ferrell in Winning Time with his friend and Step Brothers co-star Reilly.
“The truth is, the way the show was always going to be done, it’s hyperrealistic,” McKay told Vanity Fair last month. “And Ferrell just doesn’t look like Jerry Buss, and he’s not that vibe of a Jerry Buss. And there were some people involved who were like, ‘We love Ferrell, he’s a genius, but we can’t see him doing it.’ It was a bit of a hard discussion.”