Emmy-Winning Actor to Portray Celtics Legend Red Auerbach

Michael Chiklis

Getty Actor Michael Chiklis speaks during the CDGA in 2019.

One of the Boston Celtics‘ most legendary figures is set to be portrayed by an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor in an upcoming HBO series about the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s.

As reported by Deadline’s Denise Petski, Michael Chiklis — who earned acclaim with his portrayal of LAPD Detective Vic Mackey on the FX police drama The Shield over seven seasons — has signed on to play Red Auerbach on the program.

The Chiklis announcement comes just days after it was revealed that Adrien Brody would be playing Pat Riley, who coached the Lakers at the time.

A Dramatic Re-Telling of the NBA’s Golden Age

HBO’s hoops-centric drama series is based on the Jeff Pearlman book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s. The story is being brought to life on the small screen by Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Vice) who is executive producing in addition to directing the pilot episode.

Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island) is writing the series. He will also serve as an executive producer alongside McKay, Kevin Messick, co-writer Jim Hecht, Jason Shuman, Scott Stephens and Rodney Barnes.

Chiklis, meanwhile, joins an ensemble cast including Brody, Sally Field as Jessie Buss, John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Jason Clarke as Jerry West, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson and Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others.

As noted in the Deadline report, Chiklis’ performance will convey Auerbach’s turn as “the basketball genius and cut-throat competitor of every Laker fan’s nightmares” when “the Lakers’ rise threatens his Boston dynasty.”

Red Auerbach Was the Celtics’ Architect

Nearly 15 years after his death in 2006 and more than a half-century after he roamed the sidelines as the Celtics’ coach, Auerbach’s impact on the club and the basketball world as a whole can still be felt.

During his tenure as Boston’s coach, he compiled an incredible 795-397 record and won nine championships. He was also a master evaluator of talent; in the 1956 NBA Draft, he managed to acquire three future Hall of Famers in one fell swoop — Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn and KC Jones.

A few years earlier, he made history by making Chuck Cooper the first-ever Black player selected in the NBA Draft.

Bill Russell Red Auerbach Celtics

GettyBoston Celtics legend Bill Russell embraces his former coach, Red Auerbach.

Auerbach’s keen eye would continue to serve him in his role as the franchise’s general manager from 1966 to 1984 and, later, as team president. During that period, he drafted the likes of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Dave Cowens while trading for players like Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson.

Those moves figure to feature heavily in the upcoming HBO show.

Auerbach added an additional seven championship rings to his collection as an executive.

In Capable Hands

While Auerbach was a larger-than-life character, Chiklis may be just the actor to portray him. The 57-year-old has a clear track record for giving stellar performances.

For his work on The Shield, he was twice nominated for Emmys as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, winning once. He also received three Golden Globe noms for Best Actor – Television Series Drama, posting another win.

Other honors include a Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama and a Satellite Award for best actor.

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