The Story Of How Jason Sudeikis Based Ted Lasso On His Real High School Basketball Coach Is Absolutely Awesome

[The Athletic] - In the months after the show debuted on AppleTV+ last summer, interviewers kept asking Sudeikis about the coaches who inspired the title character, a college football coach who moves to England to lead a Premier League soccer team. He mentioned Wooden and Roy Williams and Bill Self and Pete Carroll and Steve Kerr and Jürgen Klopp — the coaches, he said, who care more about the person. But there was one other name he kept mentioning: Donnie Campbell.

It was those lines, the homespun ones, that stayed with Sudeikis. In an interview last summer with The Kansas City Star, he revealed that some of that folksiness seeped into Lasso.

“He’d always say,” Sudeikis recalled, “You guys look more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

If you are searching for traces of Ted Lasso, you can find them everywhere. Parts of the voice come from Self. (Kleinmann, a former Kansas player, can hear it.) There are homages to Williams, Klopp and comedy mentors like Tina Fey. The Midwestern friendliness comes from Sudeikis’ father. But back in 2013, when Sudeikis first created the character for an NBC Sports soccer commercial, he told Curran the inspiration came from three sources: “He was like: ‘You know, that character really is Donnie Campbell, Bill Self, Coach Taylor from ‘Friday Night Lights,’ all thrown into one thing,’ ” Curran said.

I had to take a break from NCAA Tournament stuff to blog this quick. It combines some of my favorite things - Ted Lasso and high school basketball. I'm a sucker for a good high school basketball story, especially a relationship like this with a coach. If you played high school ball, happened to play on a good team you can relate to this. Shit, the team from my senior year still gets together once a year for a golf outing with our high school coach. It's the highlight of his year - his words, not ours. 

If you haven't watched Ted Lasso yet, what the hell are you doing? Knock it out this week before games start. It's such a great show. It's a heartwarming, hilarious, and shocingly moving show that stars Sudeikis as an American college football coach who gets hired to coach an English soccer team. Not only that but you get a little Major League involved since the owner is trying to run the team into the ground. 

Shit, it's such a good movie that Sudeikis even won a Golden Globe because of it. 

And because Ted Lasso is heartwarming it makes it somehow even better that he uses his high school coach as a basis for Lasso. I did love the part reading about Sudeikis as a player. I wasn't sure I could like him more, but then I found out he's a lefty. 

Jason Sudeikis was a good high school basketball player. He was not a great one. He was a lefty point guard and a good three-point shooter and a classic gym rat. Mostly, he loved to play, a suburban kid with a Pistol Pete streak.

“He wasn’t a great athlete,” Campbell said, “but he understood the game.”

A suburban point guard that wasn't a great athlete but a classic gym rat? Classic white guy point guard description right there. Feel like we hear that all the time. Might as well call him TJ McConnell. Then again maybe it was the Pistol Pete streak that helped him land his new girlfriend. 



Like I said if you haven't watched Ted Lasso yet, get on it ASAP. Shout out his old high school hoops coach though. Apparently that's part of the reason why Ted Lasso is so good. Also I can't stop watching this Twitter clip.