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Winning Time's Magic Johnson Actor Quincy Isaiah Reveals His NBA Fandom - Exclusive

The season is underway for "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty," a sprawling chronicle of how the Los Angeles NBA franchise flourished under the new ownership of Dr. Jerry Buss (John C. Reilly) after he purchased the team from Jack Kent Cooke (Michael O'Keefe) in 1979. Looking for an innovative way of bolstering the team's dwindling attendance numbers, Buss, his daughter, Jeanie (Hadley Robinson), and LA Forum general manager Claire Rothman (Gaby Hoffmann) turned the Forum into an entertainment destination with a showbiz atmosphere, featuring the club that would come to be known as the "Showtime Lakers" in the 1980s.

A large part of "Winning Time" centers around Buss' first big move, the selection of Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Quincy Isaiah) as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft. As a point guard phenom out of Michigan State University, Johnson naturally drew lots of attention upon his arrival in Los Angeles, and in the series, his longtime girlfriend and future wife, Cookie Kelly (Tamera Tomakili) does her best to keep him grounded because she opted to stay at home in Michigan.

Ironically, Isaiah is also from Michigan, which begs the question of who his favorite NBA team is. After all, it presents an interesting challenge to any young, impressionable sports fan when a hometown hero like Johnson makes such an invaluable impact with a local college, only to move across the country when he turns professional.

Isaiah considers himself 'an adopted Lakers fan'

Naturally, it would make sense to presume Isaiah is a Detroit Pistons fan since he hails from Michigan. Still, with Johnson making his mark with the Lakers, it presents an interesting quandary for Isaiah because he didn't grow up watching Johnson's magical time on the court.

"I could talk about my dad during that era, because I wasn't born until '95. I'm past the Magic Johnson, Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] era," Isaiah told Looper in an exclusive interview. "My favorite player was Shaq [O'Neal] growing up, but with that being said, [Magic is] one of the greatest point guards of all time. You knew who he was. I rooted for the Lakers again with Shaq, but I started to realize that ... I liked the players more than actual franchises, you know, like LeBron [James] ... I live in the age of player empowerment. Players change teams a lot, and I always [have a] real fondness to players as opposed to franchise, but I noticed that's not the case in LA. So, I'm going to say ... I'm an adopted Lakers fan."

Also starring Adrien Brody, Jason Clarke, Solomon Hughes, Sally Field, Jason Segel, and Michael Chiklis, "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty" airs on HBO and streams on HBO Max, with a new episode premiering every Sunday through May 8.