Comedian, actor, and filmmaker Bo Burnham (Eighth Grade) will play NBA legend Larry Bird in HBO’s upcoming drama series about Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. Based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, the series “chronicles the professional and personal lives of the 1980s Lakers, one of sports’ most revered and dominant dynasties – a team that defined its era both on and off the court.”
Larry Bird is of course known for his legendary run in the NBA playing for the Boston Celtics, but we’ll still probably see a lot of Burnham in the role in the HBO series. During the 1980s, the Lakers and the Celtics competed in a particularly heated rivalry with their games attracting large TV audiences during that time. Former college basketball rivals as well, Bird and Magic Johnson had been particularly competitive with one another for their entire careers. Both were simultaneously awarded the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
Along with Bo Burnham, the show also features Michael Chiklis as Red Auerbach, Sally Field as Jessie Buss, Adrien Brody as Pat Riley, John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Jason Clarke as Jerry West, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson, Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gaby Hoffmann as Claire Rothman, Hadley Robinson as Jeanie Buss, DeVaughn Nixon as Norm Nixon, Molly Gordon as Linda Zafrani, Rob Morgan as Earvin Johnson Sr., Spencer Garrett as Chick Hearn, Kirk Bovill as Donald Sterling, Delante Desouza as Michael Cooper, Stephen Adly Guirgis as Frank Mariani, Tamera Tomakili as Earletha “Cookie” Kelly, Jason Segel as Paul Whitehead, and Joey Brooks as Lon Rosen.
Max Borenstein wrote the series and Adam McKay will direct the pilot episode. The two will also executive produce with Kevin Messick for Hyperobject Industries. Jim Hecht, who co-wrote the story, also executive produces alongside Jason Shuman, Scott Stephens, and Rodney Barnes.
Burnham got his start as a musical comedian, kicking off his career on YouTube before heading into stand-up. His videos on YouTube have since been viewed more than 295 million times. He also has three stand-up comedy specials, including the Netflix special Make Happy which was released in 2016. He also created and starred in the MTV TV series Zack Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. Burnham also wrote and directed the acclaimed 2018 movie Eighth Grade and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.
As an actor, Burnham has appeared in various movies. Last year, he had a lead role in Emerald Fennell’s acclaimed black comedy thriller Promising Young Woman opposite Carey Mulligan. The movie was up for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Mulligan at the Academy Awards. Burnham was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor by the Hollywood Critics Association.
The untitled L.A. Lakers series is expected to be released sometime in 2022, but HBO has not yet revealed an official premiere date. It’s unclear when filming on the upcoming series will begin. This news comes to us from Deadline.