Fresh Off The Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan joins ESPN The Magazine's screenplay series with a story about a world gone mad, in which only one person can save the NBA's most legendary franchise...
FADE IN: In a SERIES OF QUICK CUTS, we see:
MAGIC JOHNSON talking to reporters.
A CHYRON reads: "Magic Johnson Quits as President of Basketball Operations."
Also what I didn't like is the backstabbing and the whispering.
STEVE KERR talking to reporters.
CHYRON: "Coach Kerr on the Lakers' Firing of Luke Walton."
As head coach, you need a strong organization behind you. The Lakers are not that organization.
STEPHEN A. SMITH on SportsCenter.
CHYRON: "Lakers and Tyronn Lue end negotiations without a deal."
STEPHEN A. SMITH
The Lakers have regressed so far that the Jeanie Buss era is starting to look like the Jim Buss era!
A local sports reporter interviewing an ANGRY LAKERS FAN holding a sign that says "LeBron Deserves Better."
(Chanting) Sell the team! Sell the team!
PULL OUT to REVEAL ... INT. LOS ANGELES LAKERS HEADQUARTERS -- CORNER OFFICE -- DAY
... JEANIE BUSS sitting behind an enormous desk, watching this all play out on a huge bank of TV monitors.
(Muttering to herself) Jesus.
As REPORTS ON THE LAKERS DRAMA continue to play from the TVs, Jeanie walks to a bar cart and pours a whiskey, splashing as much around the glass as in it. She opens a drawer:
REVEALING a PURPLE AND GOLD telephone. She drains her glass, then picks up the receiver.
INTENSE ACTION MUSIC plays OVER CLOSE-UPS of multiple purple and gold Lakers phones ringing throughout the city.
EXT. REMOTE ISLAND -- DAY
A huge glass structure built into the side of a cliff. Several helicopters sit on a landing pad nearby. A Mission: Impossible-style CHYRON types on: UNDISCLOSED LOCATION.
INT. GLASS STRUCTURE - SAME
Past and present Lakers sit at a large conference table, all with placards in front of them, a la the United Nations.
As the CAMERA PANS around the table, we see:
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: Former Lakers great, current staff writer of Veronica Mars reboot
KOBE BRYANT: Former Lakers great, 2018 Academy Award winner, Best Animated Short Film
FRANK VOGEL: Current Lakers head coach, just happy to be here
ROB PELINKA: Former agent to Kobe Bryant, current Lakers general manager
PHIL JACKSON: Former Lakers coach, Jeanie Buss' ex-fiance
KURT RAMBIS: Former Laker, current Lakers senior basketball adviser and husband of Linda
LINDA RAMBIS: Executive director of special projects, Jeanie Buss' best friend/confidante
We notice that Linda's placard looks less official than the others, handwritten on a sheet of notebook paper.
JASON KIDD (former NBA All-Star, current highest-paid NBA assistant coach) leans over to her.
Hi, I'm Jason. Just started.
Linda. I've been here.
And what do you do in the organization?
Annoyed, Linda taps her paper placard with her pencil.
Why's your name card look different?
(Defensive) It doesn't.
It looks like you just ripped out a piece of notebook paper--
I AM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS AND IT IS A REAL JOB!!
Jason backs off. Jeanie takes a seat at the head of the table. (As she speaks, a SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER stands behind her, translating her words into ASL, for some reason)
I called this emergency meeting because we have a big problem. An image problem. You've all seen the news these past several months: Our public perception is in the toilet.
(Overlapping) ... In the toilet, I agree!
A few people roll their eyes. Kobe raises his hand.
Sorry, but where's LeBron?
Hey, Kobe, Frank Vogel, new Lakers head coach, happy to be here. LeBron is currently shooting Space Jam 2. But he sent a representative in his place.
REVEAL the TASMANIAN DEVIL in a Space Jam basketball jersey, sitting where LeBron's placard is. He looks studious, wearing glasses and holding a yellow legal pad.
Kobe sniffs, takes his Oscar out of his bag and sets it on the table. He angles it toward Taz. They hard stare at each other. Taz SLOBBER-GROWLS. Subtitle: "Make a move then."
The press is all over us. We can't do anything without it being blasted all over social media. We have to get out from underneath this microscope so we can regroup and get ready for next season.
You know what you need?
(Sticking it to him) Time to figure out who I am and what I want?
(Uncomfortable) Uh, no. You need a lightning rod. Someone who attracts attention and knows what to do when they get it. Someone who's willing to stand in the line of fire.
(Bad acting) Oh, that's interesting! Like who?!
Kareem, are you FaceTiming someone?
Rob pulls Kareem's hand up from under the table to REVEAL that he's holding a phone, on a FaceTime call with MAGIC JOHNSON.
(From phone) It's me! F--- you, Pelinka!
Upset, Rob shuts off Kareem's phone.
(Pleased) Kareem with the assist.
An-y-way ... you were saying, Phil?
Kurt, please! (Then) You were saying, Phil?
You all need a press secretary.
INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY
THE IRON SHEIK sits on a couch, cracking and eating pistachios with one hand through the entire scene.
The Iron Sheik is no secretary.
REVEAL Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka and Frank Vogel sitting across from him, each holding a glass of Persian tea.
No, a press secretary. We need someone to be the face of the operation. Someone who's not afraid of the media, who's willing to go out there every day and defend us. Y'know, put on a show.
The Iron Sheik nods, then looks at Rob and Frank.
Your wife makes lot of sense.
I'm their boss, not--
It is good you let her do the talking. (Then to Jeanie) OK. Sheik agree to this. But I don't work Wednesday nights.
(Knowing) Because of your religion.
Because of Riverdale. From 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sheik immersed only in adventures of Archie and gang. The three of them nod OK ... "Yeah, that works."
INT. LAKERS MEDIA ROOM -- DAY
The Iron Sheik, now in a Lakers jersey and keffiyeh, stands at the lectern, facing an army of confused reporters.
So ... you're the official "press secretary" of the Lakers? The Iron Sheik SLAMS his hands on the lectern, causing the whole room to jump.
[Bleep] You, jabroni!!! You ignorant [Bleep]!! [Bleep Bleep] dog! I'll break your back, [Bleep Bleep Bleep] and make you humble!!
Sheik SPITS, then grabs a folding chair from behind him and launches it into the crowd. FREEZE FRAME on the IMAGE as we PULL OUT to REVEAL ...
INT. SPORTSCENTER SET -- DAY
... that this video has been playing during a segment of the show. JOHN ANDERSON addresses CAMERA.
This was the scene today at the announcement of the Iron Sheik as the new Lakers press secretary. Five people were injured, although some were accused of "just faking."
INT. STAPLES CENTER -- DAY
STEPHEN A. SMITH is on the sideline reporting a Lakers practice going on behind him.
STEPHEN A. SMITH
The Lakers opened training camp today with a lot of questions still circling ...
Courtside, we see the Iron Sheik start to OPEN-HAND SLAP one of the assistant coaches.
The IMAGE ZOOMS in on Sheik, who now is trying to put the assistant in a camel clutch.
STEPHEN A. SMITH (O.S.)
Yo, man, this guy is for real crazy.
(Yelling from far away) Jabroni!!
In another MEDIA MONTAGE, we see DIFFERENT CLIPS of the Iron Sheik acting crazy, yelling, throwing things, putting people in wrestling holds. You know what we're not seeing, though?
Anything about the Lakers. Again we PULL OUT to REVEAL ...
INT. LOS ANGELES LAKERS HEADQUARTERS -- NIGHT
... Jeanie at her desk, Rob Pelinka, the Rambises and Frank Vogel around her, all watching the Iron Sheik show on the monitors. Pleased, Jeanie hits pause on an unfortunate frame of the Sheik putting Jason Kidd in a figure-four leglock.
(Overlapping) Amazing! I also think it is amazing.
(Dials on his cell) Trying Sheik now.
INT. LIVING ROOM -- SAME TIME
A teary Sheik, wearing his glasses, watches Riverdale. He ignores his BUZZING cellphone on the coffee table.
INT. LOS ANGELES LAKERS HEADQUARTERS -- BACK TO SCENE
Jeanie checks her watch.
Riverdale. He won't answer.
Rob nods and ends the call.
Sheik's done exactly what we needed. With the focus on him, we pulled off a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis, got players in free agency and made big moves.
Time to get the spotlight back on us and this team.
They all ad-lib agreement, followed by silence. Finally:
So who's going to tell Sheik his services are no longer required?
Jeanie opens another drawer, this time REVEALING a RED PHONE.
EXT. SUBURBAN HOUSE -- MORNING
Sheik, dressed in his Lakers garb, holding a briefcase and a to-go travel mug, walks down the front pathway toward his car. He bends down to pick up the newspaper when he hears:
He stands up and comes face-to-face with ... SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, wearing a suit and overcoat, holding a pastry box. The THEME MUSIC to The Godfather softly starts to PLAY.
Jeanie asked me to give you a ride to work this morning.
Shaq gestures to a car idling nearby, a guy dressed like him standing outside it. Sheik squints at him.
Is that Metta World Peace?
It is. METTA smiles as he gives Sheik a little weird wave. As Shaq leads Sheik toward the waiting car, Sheik points at the pastry box ...
What's in the box, Shaq?
Cannoli. It's good, you'll like it.