Magic Johnson’s Showtime Era: HBO Greenlights Pilot on the Legendary 1980s LA Lakers

Showtime Lakers: A Glorious Era of NBA Dominance

The Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s, also known as the Showtime Lakers, are set to receive their own series on HBO. Directed by the Academy Award-winner Adam McKay, the pilot episode will bring to life the fascinating story of this iconic basketball team. Led by the legendary Magic Johnson, the Showtime Lakers captured the hearts of fans worldwide and won three NBA championships in the mid-1980s.

Bringing Showtime to the Small Screen

Based on Jeff Pearlman’s book, “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s,” the series promises an intriguing blend of sexism, racism, tragedy, redemption, and the cultural shift that occurred in America during that period. Written by Max Borenstein, the script has captivated McKay, who is eagerly awaiting the start of filming.

As of now, the casting for crucial roles such as Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, and Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss remains unknown. Yet, the excitement surrounding “Showtime” is palpable, with HBO searching for their next big hit following the remarkable success of “Game of Thrones.”

The Rise of the Showtime Lakers: Shaping the NBA

The Showtime Lakers played a pivotal role in transforming the NBA into the global brand it is today. During the late 1970s, the league struggled with poor attendance and drug-related scandals. However, a new television contract with CBS and the emergence of the Showtime Lakers rejuvenated the sport. The team, led by the charismatic Magic Johnson and the methodical Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, along with formidable players like James Worthy and Byron Scott, became a force that was hard to reckon with.

A Cultural Phenomenon on the Court

The Lakers, dominating the Western Conference, consistently clashed with their arch-nemesis, the Boston Celtics, for NBA supremacy. In addition to their on-court success, the Showtime Lakers embraced the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. Hollywood A-listers, including Jack Nicholson and numerous stars and starlets, regularly occupied the courtside seats. This fusion of sports and entertainment, accompanied by stories of excess and debauchery, produced an irresistible allure that captivated audiences around the world.

However, every story has its ending, and the Showtime Lakers were no exception. The team experienced a swift downfall at the beginning of the 1990s when Magic Johnson shockingly announced his diagnosis with HIV. The Showtime Era came to a heartbreaking close, leaving behind an enigmatic legacy that still resonates with basketball fans today.

The Current Lakers Landscape: A Quest for Redemption

While HBO relives the glory days of the 1980s Lakers, the present Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at a crossroads following a tumultuous season with LeBron James. The team reached its lowest point with players seemingly giving up on their superstar leader.

Magic Johnson’s abrupt departure as the face of the Lakers further compounded the team’s troubles, especially amidst the Anthony Davis trade demand drama. Additionally, the dismissal of head coach Luke Walton after the season’s end added to the chaos. Walton has now found a coaching position with the Sacramento Kings but has also faced allegations in a sexual assault scandal.

Currently without a head coach, the Lakers have their sights set on Monty Williams and Ty Lue as potential candidates. Williams, a former Notre Dame star and assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, has a previous connection with Anthony Davis. Meanwhile, Ty Lue, who guided the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA championship, has a close relationship with LeBron James.


The upcoming HBO series “Showtime” will transport viewers back in time to relive the extraordinary journey of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers. From their exhilarating victories and Hollywood glitz to their heartbreaking downfall, the Showtime Lakers left an indelible mark on the sport and its fans. As the current Lakers strive to regain their former glory, the timeless legacy of Magic Johnson and his teammates will continue to inspire future generations of basketball players and fans alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who will portray the iconic Lakers players in the HBO series “Showtime”?

The casting for the principal roles, including Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, and Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, has yet to be announced. Fans are eagerly anticipating the reveal of the talented actors who will breathe life into these iconic personas.

2. How did the Showtime Lakers revolutionize the NBA?

The Showtime Lakers played a pivotal role in transforming the NBA from a struggling league with attendance issues and drug-related scandals to a global sports phenomenon. Their captivating style of play, accompanied by the fusion of sports and entertainment, helped propel the league into the top tier of professional sports.

3. When and where can we expect to see the HBO series “Showtime”?

While the pilot episode has been greenlit, specific details regarding the release date and broadcasting schedule have not been announced yet. Fans of the Showtime Lakers and basketball enthusiasts around the world eagerly await further updates on the series.

4. How did Magic Johnson’s HIV diagnosis impact the Showtime Lakers?

Magic Johnson’s announcement that he had contracted HIV sent shockwaves throughout the sports world and beyond. This heartbreaking revelation brought an abrupt end to the Showtime Era, leaving fans and teammates devastated. However, Johnson’s resilience and advocacy efforts have since transformed the perception and understanding of HIV/AIDS.

5. What are the Los Angeles Lakers’ plans to rebuild and regain their former glory?

Following a challenging season, the Lakers are in a transitional phase, seeking to rebuild and return to their championship-caliber form. With the search for a head coach in progress and potential alliances with talented candidates such as Monty Williams and Ty Lue, the Lakers organization is focused on assembling a winning team capable of challenging for NBA supremacy once again.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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