Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty premiered on HBO and HBO Max this past Sunday, and it takes look at the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1980s. The first episode focused on Lakers owner Jerry Buss buying the team and drafting Magic Johnson No. 1 in the 1979 NBA Draft. This week, Entertainment Tonight caught up with Johnson who revealed why he won't watch the series.
"It's hard. I won't watch it because it's hard to duplicate," Johnson said. "You can't duplicate Showtime. "First, on the court, I mean, we just did our thing, it was up and down. And then off the court — because unless you were a Laker, or you're a Buss family [member] — because you can't duplicate Dr. Jerry Buss — and the Laker Girls and Paula Abdul and what that meant, I mean, it started on the court and it went all the way up."
Quincy Isaiah plays Johnson in Winning Time and spoke to Entertainment Tonight about the role. "You get to meet him as a 20-year-old, seeing him being pulled from Michigan and being thrust into this spotlight that's in Los Angeles, California, and playing for the NBA," Isaiah said. "We meet him at a point in his life where he isn't this icon yet, and you get to see a little bit of where that comes from and how he grows into that. But also, he's just a kid, you know? And you see the mistakes and the mountains and valleys of becoming this well-renowned figure. It's great."
The episode also takes a quick look at Johnson's rivalry with Lary Bird in college. Bird is played by Sean Patrick Small, who spoke to PopCulture.com about playing the NBA legend. "I went to YouTube right when I was getting the audition, because I was like, all right, I need to get the accent down and to not sound like a caricature of a Midwest twang or something like that," Small said. "So I was just powering through all these different interviews that I found on YouTube from random 30-second clips of him being interviewed at a college all-star game to interviews with him and Chick Hearn in the eighties and stuff like that."