HBO is moving swiftly through the casting process for its untitled series about the Los Angeles Lakers' iconic 80's Showtime era, and some excellent actors have already been confirmed. It just got a lot more interesting, too, with an arguably unexpected actor to play the Boston Celtics icon Larry Bird, as comedian and wordsmith Bo Burnham was tapped to portray the "Hick from French Lick," and there are more awesome casting choices where that came from.
Bo Burnham, who built up his fandom as both a YouTube personality and stand-up comedian, has transitioned into acting in more recent years with roles in movies like The Big Sick and Promising Young Woman. Now, Variety is reporting he'll play the Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Larry Bird, who was a key rival to Magic Johnson and the Lakers in one of the NBA's most legendary eras.
While Bo Burnham is a key addition to the HBO drama, he's not the only famous face to be added to the series as of late. Freaks and Geeks and Muppets vet Jason Segal, who has strayed from comedies in recent years, also joined the show this week, though not in the role of a player for either the Lakers or any other NBA team. Instead, Deadline reported Segal is set to take on the role of the Lakers' Paul Westhead, an assistant coach turned head coach with a unique story.
Paul Westhead joined the Lakers as an assistant coach under Jack McKinney but was named interim head coach after McKinney was hospitalized. He ultimately led the Lakers to a championship in 1980, marking the early days of the Showtime era. Westhead was ultimately fired in his third year as coach and was replaced by an assistant that he'd hired, the inimitable Pat Riley, who will be portrayed by Adrian Brody in the TV show.
Bo Burnham and Jason Segel are but the two most recent exciting talents that have joined HBO's Lakers series, which already had a stacked cast coming into those castings, with names like Michael Chiklis, Sally Field, Jason Clarke and John C. Reilly, just to name a few. The series itself is being written by Max Borenstein and is based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. Adam McKay will executive produce the series.
As for what viewers and sports fans can expect from this series, Max Borenstein told Collider that one could equate the story to Netflix's The Crown. Specifically in the sense that the story is of a dynasty team, as told through the lens of American culture and all the prestige that comes from being a top professional team. At the moment, details are pretty scant about the series' timeline and approach overall, and it still doesn't have a name. Still, given the prestige that HBO has as a network, combined with the cast that's attached, this is a series with some real potential to stand up to The Last Dance as a viewership monster.
For those hungry for some great basketball content right now while waiting for HBO's Lakers show to come together, Netflix's Last Chance U: Basketball is a great watch, even if Coach John Mosley thought some representations were a little off.