The success in 2020 of The Last Dance, the documentary about Michael Jordan’s run with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, has led to a series of other planned documentaries about major sports figures. Long, career-spanning documentaries about Tom Brady and Derek Jeter are in the works, with others also rumored. An eventual Last Dance-style show about LeBron James seems inevitable.
It’s been known for a while that one of Jordan’s old rivals, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, is planning a similar documentary about his own life and career, which, like The Last Dance will feature Magic’s cooperation. Now, a report this week from Bloomberg News says that Peacock, the streaming service, is leading the bidding for the Magic show, with $25 million mentioned as a possible winning bid.
The project’s director is Rick Famuyiwa, who directed the movie Dope and episodes of The Mandalorian, and is a native of Inglewood, Calif., where the Lakers played during Johnson’s career.
The show, per Awful Announcing, “will be built around archival footage of Johnson’s Hall of Fame career, which includes five NBA championships with the Lakers, three Most Valuable Player awards, 12 All-Star appearances, and an NCAA basketball national title at Michigan State. The film will include interviews with Johnson, his teammates, family, and business associates.”
The documentary will have plenty to work with, from multiple NBA Finals battles to the long rivalry with Larry Bird, to Johnson’s shocking announcement in 1991 that he was retiring after testing positive for HIV. That latter story, in addition to Johnson’s multiple comebacks and continued good health, was the subject of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “The Announcement.”
The series will likely also deal with other less-happy stories from Johnson’s career, from his ill-fated stints as the coach and general manager of the Lakers to his even more short-lived turn as a talk show host.
This is one of three long-form series about the Lakers that are arriving in the near future. Hulu is planning a nine-part series about the franchise under the Buss family next year, while HBO is preparing a scripted series about the 1980s Lakers teams, based on Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. That show, because it’s on HBO, probably can’t be called Showtime.