[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty episode three, “The Best Is Yet to Come”]

Adrien Brody can’t help but laugh about it.

When the call came that Adam McKay and the creative team behind HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty wanted to talk to him about playing former Los Angles Lakers head coach Pat Riley, he was floored.

In his youth, the Oscar-winning actor was in awe of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the Showtime era — but he had just as much admiration for their coach, Riley. An odd sentiment, as he notes to The Hollywood Reporter, because like so many kids, he had no interest in NBA coaches, just the stars playing the game.

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Riley won a championship ring with the Lakers in 1972 as a player before nudging his way onto the squad’s broadcast team. Then fate would lead to him becoming the Lakers assistant coach and then head coach during the Showtime era. And Brody, in his preparation for the project, could not help but marvel at the journey while he sunk his teeth into a complex man he’d admired since childhood.

How did Winning Time come about for you? 

I heard from my reps that Adam McKay and the show’s creative team wanted to speak to me about that role. And I said, “Wow. That is an amazing idea.” (Laughs.) I thought it sounded daunting but really exciting. I had some really great conversations with Max Borenstein, our showrunner, about it. I had to get my head around who he was at that time and what he was going through. Interestingly enough, as I was preparing for this, they presented me with the opportunity to come on to Succession, with which Adam is also involved.

Were you a Lakers fan during the Showtime era, or did the interest come from preparing for this series and this iconic sports figure? 

I remember from my childhood Magic and Kareem, these guys were just larger than life. And Pat Riley as well. He left this indelible mark on me at a very young age. Now, I can tell you specific coaches, but I didn’t pay attention to the persona of coaches then. So that says a lot.

It’s been an eye-opening journey for me. The struggles these individuals have to overcome regularly, it’s something I overlook — and you shouldn’t. When I see people who have achieved so much, I forget they have overcome so much personal and professional adversity.

Everyone knows Pat Riley the multi-championship NBA coach, but likely not as much about his long journey to get there. Tell me about playing a person with such an arc. 

It’s such a vast arc. It’s from a moment of wandering a beach and trying to figure out your purpose and place. And then trying to find a path to get back in and find a way that is meaningful to you as an individual. Then how heartbreaking that is, having dedicated your life to a sport or any endeavor and then being forced into retirement. But, if things go well, then we get to witness such a long journey, and the transformation is remarkable. I am very excited about that.

It was eye-opening for me. I think he’s a remarkable person. All the reading I’ve done to do my homework on him, it’s really been inspiring as a person outside my responsibilities to represent him. I have a great deal of admiration for him.

Interview edited for length and clarity. 

Source: Hollywood

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