Multiple sources confirmed Monday afternoon it’s a done deal. Lebron James is the only NBA player named so far as being a part of the sequel to the original 1996 movie. Those old enough to remember the time the original movie was made will recall it was made while Michael Jordan was transitioning back to the NBA after playing minor league baseball for two years. This detail was woven into the movie’s plot to help explain why His Airness didn’t have his skills stolen by aliens. The movie finished filming during the 95-96 season.
At the time the movie hit theaters, the Bulls won the NBA Title and set the then all-time NBA record 72 season wins. Anyone who remotely follows sports knows the Golden State Warriors broke the record none thought would even be matched in Jordan’s lifetime last month by winning 73 games in the season. They are also expected to repeat as NBA Champions this year.
What do we know about the sequel so far? Nothing other than it’s happening and the script is now being written. Websites are speculating who else from the NBA will appear in Space Jam 2. The original movie also featured celebrities: Wayne Knight played Jordan’s publicist in the film, Larry Bird (retired by then) and Bill Murray played themselves and Danny Divito voiced the movie’s villain Mr. Swackhammer.
Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bouges had their skills stolen by the Monstars. What you had as a result was a squad of big men with one small guy, which was the favored lineup in the NBA 20 years ago. The game clearly moved away from this: Today, there is a far less emphasis on scoring in the paint and more on range. Several NBA players also made cameo appearances.
Assuming Space Jam 2 uses the first movie as a blueprint for former NBA Players, here’s who I think could make the cut:
- Kenny “The Jet” Smith: Former player. Currently works as a TNT Anchor. He won 2 NBA Championships with the Houston Rockets during Jordan’s retirement.
- Shaquille O’Neal: Everyone knows who he is and what he did during his career. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of fame this year. He is also an accomplished actor in his own right, appearing in several films during the 1990s. Currently works as a TNT Anchor. May not be available if the movie’s filming conflicts with his planned Shaq-Fu movie. Fun fact: He makes a brief cameo appearance in the final moment of the original Space Jam.
- Charles Barkley: Everyone familiar with the NBA knows who he is. Like many NBA stars during the 90s, he was a promising all star who never won a ring. His mouth got him in trouble both as a player and since his playing days ended. He’d insist on being in the film if Shaq and Kenny get a role. Unlike both of them, he played a prominent role in the first film and could make the cut for this reason alone.
- Tracy McGrady (aka T-Mac): Everyone familiar with the NBA knows who he is. After he retired from basketball, he pulled a Jordan and played Minor League Baseball. He now works as an NBA Analyst for ESPN.
- Bill Russell: The man with more Rings as a player than Fingers. If you don’t know who he is, something’s wrong with you. He is a living legend whose career as a player and a coach will probably never be matched ever. He’s 82 years old but doesn’t look older than 65. If asked, he’d make time to appear in the movie.
Kenny, Shaq and T-Mac will probably play themselves as analysts in SJ2. They could also do commentary for the game itself–something I felt was missing from the first movie. Charles could do this or have it revealed he’s working with (insert Celebrity here) to prove what happened to him 20 years ago (in the first movie) really happened and is happening again.
They’ll have a huge pool of celebrities and current NBA talent to choose from. I also think it would be a really nice touch to cameo some WNBA players as well. As for current NBA talent, I honestly think they can make anyone look good.