The Intriguing Story Behind the Creation of Michael Jordan’s Legendary Movie Space Jam

Published 01/10/2021, 3:26 PM EST
OAKVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA – JULY 20: Five-time NBA MVP Michael Jordan smiles after hitting to the seventh green during the RBC Canadian Open’s Mike Weir Charity Classic Pro-Am at Glen Abbey Golf Club on July 20, 2009 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

It has been 23 years since the Michael Jordan starrer Space Jam was released in the theaters all across the world. Over the years multiple movies on basketball have been released, but none of them have been as iconic as Space Jam.


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The MJ starrer is the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time and is arguably the most popular. With the second installation coming later this year, let’s take a look at what was the inspiration for Space Jam in the first place.

How an ad inspired the creation of Space Jam


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Space Jam was the perfect combination of NBA star power and iconic animated characters. The roots of this masterpiece, however, are not known to many.

In the year 1992, Nike aired a Super Bowl commercial for the new Air Jordan VII directed by Joe Pytka. It was the brainchild of renowned Creative Director Jim Riswold.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Riswold explained why he paired MJ with Bugs Bunny and said, “Originally, I just couldn’t think of a bigger star to pair Michael with than Bugs Bunny, so that’s how it started.”

The ‘Hare Jordan’ ad was one of the most successful for Nike as well as Warner Brothers. Seeing the success of this collaboration, longtime agent, David Falk, pushed Warner Bros for the commercial to be expanded and be adapted into a feature film.

The production house saw this as the perfect opportunity to revive the Looney Toons franchise. They agreed to work with a then retired Michael Jordan and make a feature-length movie Space Jam.

Joe Pytka who had directed the original advertisement was given the task to direct the movie as well. What transpired was seven hours of regular filming and rigorous MJ practice and workouts who was sharpening his basketball skills.

The work paid off, to say the least. The film became the most successful basketball film of all time, and MJ on the other hand made a superb comeback in the league, winning 3 more titles in the next 3 years.

According to Chicago Tribune, the film had a global impact of $4-6 billion USD. This unprecedented success has led to the Warner Brothers releasing another installment of Space Jam later this year.

Can LeBron James recreate the magic of Michael Jordan?

Ever since his debut in the league, LeBron James has always been compared to Michael Jordan. NBA fans all across the world are divided on who is the GOAT.


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Given how comparable their CVs have been, when there were talks about the second installment of Space Jam, one name cropped up as the favorite to be the star of the movie, LeBron James.

Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) poses with 2020 NBA Champion ring before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James confirmed this news in an Instagram post earlier last year. He also revealed the new look uniforms for the same. Irrespective of fan bases, every NBA fan loves Michael Jordan’s classic Space Jam.


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We can’t wait to see what this sequel starring LeBron James brings to the table. Can LeBron’s Space Jam: A New Legacy, eclipse MJ’s Space Jam?

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Aditya Mohapatra

1029 articles

Aditya Mohapatra is a sports enthusiast who primarily covers the NBA for EssentiallySports. Having graduated in Mass Communication, he has prior experience in writing for ABP News, and has been writing for EssentiallySports since November 2020. This die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan feels that LeBron James is the best thing to have ever happened to the NBA, and will hold a healthy debate with anyone suggesting otherwise.