Among the casting choices for HBO’s upcoming series on the “Showtime” era Los Angeles Lakers, one of the more intriguing was comedian Bo Burnham as Larry Bird. Anyone who’s watched Burnham recently in his recent Netflix comedy special, Inside, or the film Promising Young Woman shouldn’t have any concern over Burnham’s acting talent. And at 6-foot-5, he could suitably portray the Boston Celtics legend physically.

However, curiosity over Burnham as Bird will now go unanswered. According to Variety‘s Joe Otterson, Burnham has dropped out of the HBO Lakers project due to scheduling conflicts. Taking his place in the cast is Sean Patrick Small. That will likely prompt comments and Twitter responses of “Who?” We’re not talking about Sean Patrick Flannery, star of the “Boondock Saints” films. Nor is this Sean Patrick Thomas, best known for Save the Last Dance.

So in this case, “Who?” is a valid question. Small has very few acting credits on his resume. He can definitely be called a “newcomer.”

Yet as can be seen from the featured image above and Instagram photo below, Small does slightly resemble Bird. And with hair and make-up, he’ll surely look the part. No information is available on how tall he is, but he presumably wouldn’t have been cast if he couldn’t meet the physical attributes of the role. And who knows? Maybe Small will be better as Bird than Burnham would’ve been.

Small joins a stacked cast that includes Adrien Brody as Lakers coach Pat Riley, John C. Reilly as team owner Jerry Buss, Jason Clarke as general manager Jerry West, Jason Segel as Riley’s predecessor Paul Westhead, and Michael Chiklis as Celtics president Red Auerbach, in addition to relative unknowns Quincy Isaiah as Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Based on Jeff Pearlman’s 2014 book (Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s), the still untitled project is being executive-produced by Adam McKay (The Big Short), who also directed the pilot, and written by Max Borenstein (Godzilla vs. Kong).

The HBO series is one of many Lakers-related documentaries and TV series currently in development. including Hulu’s nine-part docuseries chronicling the team’s success under Jerry Buss’ ownership, a Magic Johnson docuseries (viewed as his version of The Last Dance) that will reportedly land at Peacock, and a Netflix comedy based on the life of current team owner and president Jeanie Buss.


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.