The “based on a true story” craze has been around for a long time on television. Our fascination with true stories usually involve murder and crime, but recently, with series like HBO Max’s Winning Times: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, that obsession has shifted a bit to the sports world. One of the upcoming sports series that looks to capture the hearts of basketball fans everywhere is FX’s limited Series The Sterling Affairs. It was picked up to series in April and now, according to Variety, Ed O’Neill has been cast as Donald Sterling in the series. O’Neill will be joining Laurence Fishburne and Jacki Weaver who are the only other cast members announced so far.
The six-episode limited series is based on the ESPN 30 for 30 podcast of the same name and will tell the behind-the-scenes story of coach Doc Rivers, played by Fishburne, and the Los Angeles Clippers’ quest to bring a championship to one of the historically worst franchises in all of sports. However, it is hard to get anything done when the downfall of your team’s disgraced owner at the time, Donald Sterling, is right around the corner. Sterling’s now well known racist behavior came to light during a power struggle between his wife of over 60 years, Shelly Sterling who is played by Weaver, and his mistress, V. Stiviano.
Gina Welch will serve as writer and executive producer on the series while Rembert Browne will be serving as a producer on the project. Color Force’s Brad Simpson and Nellie Reed will also executive produce with Nina Jacobson and Ramona Shelburne. Shelburne was the reporter and host behind the original podcast. Finally, Kevin Bray will direct the first block of episodes and serve as an executive producer on those episodes.
O’Neill is best known for his role on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family and The Sterling Affairs will be his first TV role since that popular series ended in 2020. The actor is also known for his roles in shows like Married… With Children and films like The Last Shift, The Bone Collector, Little Giants, Dutch, and The Spanish Prisoner. O’Neill is a great addition to this cast, and it is going to be exciting to see the actor tackle a much different role than Modern Family fans are used to.
Professional sports, particularly the NBA, are a lot more complex than most fans give it credit for and the success of a team always starts with the owner. If you have a problematic owner like Sterling you are probably not going to make it that far and the story surrounding the Clippers at that time is definitely prime for the limited series treatment. All the pieces are here to make this a winning season for FX and that is more than what we can say for the actual Clippers franchise at the moment.
There is currently no release date for The Sterling Affairs.