Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss to produce pro basketball TV show for Showtime
The Lakers are perennially among the NBA’s leaders in television appearances, but this is a little bit different.
Legendary coach Phil Jackson and his fiancee, Lakers vice president Jeanie Buss, will reportedly serve as executive producers for a new cable television series about a family that owns a professional basketball team.
Variety reports that the scripted show is being developed by Showtime and that movie director Ron Shelton will head up the project.
In an interview, Buss said her experiences working with the Lakers as well as managing events, would inform the stories told in the potential series. “We’ve seen so much, the things that go on behind the scenes,” she said. “We go to events and people ask us a lot of questions about what they don’t see. They know the game. They see the game, but they don’t really know what leads up to getting the team on the court.” Most people “don’t know what makes a championship season or what it’s like to go through a losing season.”
The Hollywood Reporter adds additional details.
Set to write, executive produce and, should it go to pilot, direct is Ron Shelton. The sports-centric filmmaker’s most notable movies include Bull Durham, Tin Cup and White Men Can’t Jump.
The series would mark a scripted extension of the network’s already sizable sporting catalog. Showtime recently added 60 Minutes Sports to a roster that already includesInside the NFL, baseball doc series The Franchise, All Access, Jim Rome on Showtime, Showtime Championship Boxing, ShoBox: The New Generation and ShoMMA.
Jackson coached the Lakers from 1999 until 2011, leading the team to three titles. Buss is the daughter of former Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died in February. Her brother, Jim, is a basketball operations executive for the Lakers. Former Lakers forward and current assistant coach Kurt Rambis, a longtime Jackson confidante, will also be involved with the project.
There’s never been much of a separation between the Lakers and the entertainment industry. Look no further than the famous “Showtime” nickname, Jack Nicholson and the courtside celebrities, and even the team’s new “Hollywood Nights” jerseys. Magic Johnson owns a string of movie theaters and a production company, Shaquille O’Neal’s career has included numerous forays into movies, television, video games and rap music, and Kobe Bryant was the subject of a Spike Lee documentary, among many other projects.
Even if this show isn’t technically about the Lakers, focusing instead on a fictional organization, the franchise’s fingerprints will be all over it given the big-name personalities involved. And if the show decided to directly draw on the Lakers’ recent history for plot ideas, there would be no shortage of material. Take your pick from the following juicy topics: Bryant’s season-ending Achilles injury; Dwight Howard’s arrival and sudden departure; Jackson’s flirtation with a coaching comeback; the decision to trade Derek Fisher, Andrew Bynum’s driving record and disdain for huddles; the Lamar Odom saga; the hopeless Mike Brown era; the reported friction between Jeanie and Jim over the future of the organization; Steve Nash’s attempt to end his career on a high note; the failed trade for Chris Paul; and an endless string of entertaining bit characters, including Metta World Peace, Nick Young and Adam Morrison.
That laundry lists winds up raising a legitimate concern about the future of this project: the Lakers aren’t just inspiration for this show, they’re competition, too. Will the fictional drama be able to match the real thing?