Sean Patrick Small: Manifesting The Role Of Larry Bird

Sean Patrick Small Larry Bird

Image Credit Via The Sixty Fifty


HBO’s Winning Time series dramatizes the rise of the 1980's Lakers in addition to diving into how Dr. Jerry Buss recruited Magic Johnson. Adam McKay’s(Director) latest project stirred quite the conversation amongst critics with an all-star cast including John C. Reilly, Jason Segel, Sally Fields, Michael Chiklis, Adrien Brody, Jason Clark. But one story that has seemed to fly under the radar is about the man who portrayed Larry Bird and how he actually manifested the role into existence.


Sean Patrick Small has always been a Larry Bird fan. In highschool he tried to center his style of play around Bird’s and even wore #33. When attending USC, a friend recommended the book When March Went Mad:The Game That Transformed Basketball written by Seth Davis. The book goes in-depth on the rivalry between Magic Johnson & Larry Bird leading up to the 1979 NCAA championship game. Being so taken by Bird’s story, Sean wrote a four-part miniseries based on the book and even managed to get Thomas Carter, Director of the iconic 2005 sports film Coach Carter, to get on board with the project. Sean has been pitching the miniseries to networks since 2014 while also acting in other films. Then when the pandemic hit in 2020, that's when he doubled down on his writing even more so.

One day the stars aligned, as he heard from a friend that Adam McKay was accepting auditions for the role of the Celtics great. Sean was able to land an audition in a matter of two weeks and was more than prepared, with studying Bird's background for over 8 years. He even dressed as Larry replicating the iconic sports illustrated cover of the forward at Indiana a few years prior during a photoshoot at his apartment. The photo’s resurfaced during casting and even was used to promote the film in some instances. From writing a story on #33 to playing as him for one the most versatile directors in the industry, things were coming full circle for the California native.

 Sean Patrick Small in HBO's Winning Time

Image Credit vis HBO's Winning Time

Although it was a fairly easy transition to play the role for the rising star, Patrick Small admitted it took awhile to perfect Larry’s uncanny jump shot saying during our conversation “It took me awhile, I wanted to figure it out right away but our trainer Idan (Ravin) kept telling me it was going to take some getting used to.” He also discussed his relationship with Quincy saying their competitive spirit translated on camera but off-camera they were great friends. When asked about what we can expect in the second season, his lips were sealed but hinted that we'll see more of Larry's story.


After having the pleasure of sitting down with Sean, there’s two things I can certainly take away from his success…patience & preparation. What separated him from other actors when going for casting is he stayed patient writing his miniseries and knew more about Bird than anyone else. Having that foundation played a huge part in addition to his ability to play basketball and looking like the Celtic legend. Be sure to listen to our full conversation out on all platforms and stay tuned for season 2 of HBO’s Winning Time, which is set to release later this year.

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