The Story of Michael Jordan Starring Blockbuster Space Jam in 1996

Published 03/14/2023, 6:43 PM EDT

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The Last Dance docuseries, produced by ESPN Films and Netflix and released in 2020, was a major hit. Fans around the world loved every bit of the show that revealed some intriguing details about Michael Jordan during his time with the Chicago Bulls. The younger generation of today did not see the six-time NBA champion play live. So the series was perfect for them to understand the legend of Jordan. Also, for the older generation, it was a refreshing reminder of the greatness and accomplishments of the five-time NBA MVP. But before The Last Dance, in 1996, MJ starred in the movie Space Jam which was a massive hit as well. Interestingly, the film was shot after his first comeback from retirement and the subsequent 1995 playoff loss against the Orlando Magic.

His Airness was one of the most competitive players ever and he wanted revenge following the embarrassing loss that year. Moreover, Jordan and his team had denied multiple Hollywood offers before this. So why did Michael Jordan star in Space Jam despite the loss?

Michael Jordan as a fictional character in Space Jam


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Space Jam featured other NBA superstars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, and Shawn Bradley. The plot of the movie starts with Michael Jordan retiring from the NBA and pursuing baseball after his father’s death. Meanwhile, the superstars mentioned above would suddenly lose their game powers mysteriously. As it turns out, their powers were stolen by aliens who had been challenged by the Looney Tunes for a basketball game.

Looney Tunes would ask MJ to come out of retirement to help them win the basketball game against the Monstars. The movie then slowly unfolds how Jordan and the Looney Tunes battle the aliens and help the superstars get back their basketball powers. Hollywood superstar Bill Murray also played a key role in the film.

Starring in Space Jam was a business decision for Michael Jordan

Space Jam was not the first time Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny joined hands. The duo first played alongside each other in a Nike commercial for the 1992 Super Bowl, which was an instant hit among fans. As it turns out, Jordan’s agent David Falk came up with the idea to expand the commercial into a feature film starring the two, according to a report from However, it was not just about the chemistry between Jordan and Bugs Bunny. It was a business decision and a collaboration between major brands.

At the time, Warner Bros was looking to reboot the Looney Tunes and joining forces with MJ looked like the perfect opportunity. Falk believed that the movie had both box-office and merchandising potential and convinced the studio as well. On the other hand, the five-time NBA MVP and his team believed that this was the right script to promote a clean image by starring in a children’s movie.

However, the 15-time NBA All-Star reportedly did not enjoy his time acting in the movie. But the live-action was a major hit among children and even teens and adults. Jordan nailed his role as himself in the blockbuster.

Everything you should know about Space Jam

Warner Bros released Space Jam theatrically in the United States on November 15, 1996. The live-action/animated sports comedy was directed by Joe Pytka. The movie won various awards as well. In 1997, Robert Kelly won the Grammy award for the category – Best Song Written Specifically for Motion Picture or for Television, for the song I Believe I can Fly. Also, the movie itself received two awards in the 1997 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards.


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Space Jam was then released on VHS, DVD, and LaserDisc in 1997. Also, the franchise expanded into comics and video games as well. The Space Jam video game was released for the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn consoles and MS-DOS computers in 1996.

Other games Michael Jordan has appeared in

Following the massive success of Space Jam, Michael Jordan appeared in the video game adaptation of the movie in 1996. However, this was not his first ever video game appearance. MJ has an interesting relationship with video games. The Chicago Bulls legend first featured in a video game four years after stepping into the league.


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Jordan vs. Bird: One on One was his first-ever video game which was developed by Electronic Arts and released in 1988. He has since then featured in Michael Jordan in Flight (1993) and Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City (1994). MJ has been featured in various NBA games as well.

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Jordan made his digital comeback in NBA 2K11 after he signed a multi-year deal with 2K, which has allowed them to use his name and likeness so far.


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Michael Jordan’s earnings from Space Jam

Space Jam was a box office success grossing over $230 million worldwide. According to a report, “the merchandise sales alone brought in an additional $1.2 billion.” The fee of Michael Jordan for the film was not disclosed. However, considering the massive profit and merchandise sales, it is safe to assume that he had a hefty payday.



Bagavathi Eswaran

1120 articles

Bagavathi Eswaran is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been playing the game of basketball for more than 20 years now and has also been following the NBA for more than 10 years. After not being able to go pro, this former college player decided to join the IT industry.

Edited By: Satagni Sikder