The Space Jam Effect: NBA-style

We kick off a series of articles, providing a Space Jam effect to the current rosters of the four major sports; the NBA, the NFL, the MLB, and the NHL. The criteria for each will be very similar to what happens in the movie…

By: Jonathan Goad

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Space Jame movie

Any sports fan who grew up in the 90’s loves Space Jam. It combined two of our favorite things in the world; NBA stars, and the Looney Tunes.

If you haven’t seen it, what have you been waiting for? There’s no spoiler warning for you — Space Jam is 22 years old. There is no excuse not to have seen it by now.

In the movie, a race of aliens — led by Mr. Swackhammer, wants to enslave the Looney Tunes — bringing some new talent and entertainment to Moron Mountain — an intergalactic amusement park.

The Looney Tunes are unimpressed by the size of the aliens and challenge them to a game of basketball. If Bugs Bunny and Co. win, they get to stay in Looney Tunes Land. If they lose, they become the newest attraction at Moron Mountain.

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Space Jame movie

The Nerdlucks (I was unaware they had a name) have magical powers and end up stealing the talents of five NBA superstars; Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues.

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Space Jam

The Aliens didn’t pay much attention to the NBA on their far away planet. Even a retired Michael Jordan would have been the best choice at the time.

The Looney Tunes knew that, of course, and brought “His Airness” to Looney Tunes Land to help save them from enslavement.

Here’s the long and short of it. With the help of Bill Murray (and Michael’s Secret Stuff), Jordan, Bugs Bunny, and the crew end up beating the Monstars with the last second, half-court dunk from Jordan.

Yes, from half court. Anything can happen in Looney Tunes Land — even stretching your arm from half court to the basket.

For Jordan, that’s not much of a “stretch,” though.


The Tune Squad wins the game and Swackhammer is sent into the pit of the abyss.

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Space Jam

The stolen talents are then returned to the NBA superstars, and the Nerdlucks get to stay in Looney Tunes Land.

After defeating the best the galaxy had to offer, Michael Jordan then returns to the NBA to continue his dominance.

Criticize the movie all you want. Sure, the acting isn’t great, but do we expect NBA players to be great actors? Not really, but there are some who are especially awful.

We’re looking at you, Shaq!

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Kazaam

Anyways, there have also been rumors of Space Jam 2 for about a decade, featuring LeBron James. With him in Hollywood joining the Los Angeles, that seems like a real possibility, now.

Space Jam

Photo Credit: Space Jam

Will it ever happen? Who knows, but it’s fun to speculate, isn’t it?

The new Monstars will need the same type of players for this variation to be accurate.

These players need to be able to attack the rim more than anything (did the Monstars do anything but dunk?).

With that being said, here are my five NBA stars whose talents are being stolen for “Space Jam 2.” 

PG – Russell Westbrook

Westbrook’s dunks are usually vicious, one-handed slams. He’s not afraid to challenge anyone either. He doesn’t care so much about sky-walking or anything flashy, only results.

He throws it down with power every time he takes the rock to the hoop. The more I watch his dunks, the easier it makes this decision. He’s a perfect fit for the Monstars.

SG – Demar DeRozan

Like Westbrook, DeRozan attacks the rim with power. He’ll dunk in traffic and around anyone who dares to test him. He mixes in a nice blend of one-handed and two-handed dunks — all with authority.

SF – LeBron James

He had so many dunks that it had to be split up into separate videos.

The best player in the world doesn’t need an explanation of why his talent would be stolen. Even at age 33 and in his 15th season, King James is still one of the best in-game dunkers in the league.

Opposing players know to get out of the way when LeBron is trucking his way down the lane. If they don’t, they end up posterized.

PF – Blake Griffin

Blake may have lost a little bit of publicity after he was traded away from Lob City to Detroit, but he can still throw it down with the best of them.

He can still put anyone on a poster without hesitation. The volume may not be there as it once was, but the vicious power he dunks with fits nicely on the Monstars.

C – Anthony Davis

Another with two-parts.

Just by volume, Anthony Davis must be included. That doesn’t take anything away from him, however. He is probably the most natural person to throw an alley-oop to.

Davis is also among the best put-back dunkers in the game — having plenty of power to dunk on anyone. Welcome to the Monstars, big fella.

These players aren’t just great dunkers; they’re great all-around players, as well. It would take a Herculean effort to beat the aliens with this kind of talent.

Now to the more critical role. Who will save the Looney Tunes? This player also has to be a great all-around player. There aren’t many that compare to Michael Jordan, but we may have found a close second.

For this role, someone with a similar skill set is needed. That person also has to be a great leader.

Who Saves the Looney Tunes? Kobe Bryant

Kobe last played in 2016 and given a chance, could probably still ball out. Kobe is the second best shooting guard in NBA history –second only to the man who saved Bugs and his friends the first time: Michael Jordan.

If the criteria is to have someone like Mike, Kobe is the perfect pick.

I’m amazed by this video every time I see it. It’s almost like Kobe intentionally mimics Jordan.

He also has the resume to do it. He won five championships, one MVP, two Finals MVPs, and was an All-NBA selectee 15 times.

Kobe did tear his Achilles late in his career but (somehow) stayed in that very game and sank a pair of free-throws — making him more than worthy of this elite selection.

For the sake of this article, however, we are going to grant Kobe with perfect health.

Our Space Jam Celebrity pick

Superstars will have their talents stolen by aliens, and a currently retired player will have to save the Looney Tunes. As we all know, the Looney Tunes might have lost without the help of the great Bill Murray.

He provided a much-needed spark even if he doesn’t play defense. As a wild card, a celebrity will be added to the Tune Squad. From there, I will predict how I think the game would go.

No one expected Bill Murray to contribute much to the Tune Squad. However, he came in, played some valuable minutes, and showed off some decent skills.

Murray also wasn’t afraid to play a little dirty, dishing a bit of the Monstars own medicine right back at them.

The celebrity’s purpose is to provide a spark, along with some entertainment and humor.

Celebrity off the Bench: Jason Segel

Jason Segel would be the perfect fit for this team. He has a great resume of being funny on TV and in movies. He also played varsity basketball in high school and was even in a dunk contest — so a win, win (win).

Jason Segel is a bit older now, but so was Bill Murray in the original Space Jam. “Doctor Dunk,” as Jason was called back in the day, would provide a great spark to Kobe and the Tune Squad — not only with his basketball skills but with his wit as well.

Jason Segel has also acted with The Muppets, so performing with the Looney Tunes should be a smooth transition for him.

The Game: Matchups

Monstars Tune Squad

  1. Russell Westbrook Bugs Bunny
  2. Demar DeRozan Lola Bunny
  3. LeBron James Kobe Bryant
  4. Blake Griffin Daffy Duck
  5. Anthony Davis Tasmanian Devil

Jason Segel (entering late in the game)

Well, that looks terrifying. The Monstars appear to have a huge advantage right off the bat. It’s easy to assume that they go up big on the Tune Squad early.

At halftime, things look ugly for Kobe and Bugs. However, as the second half gets underway, Kobe starts a run all by himself (he did score 81 points in a game, once).

Thanks to Kobe, the game is close as we approach the end of regulation — as he’s approaching Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game points record of 100.

Enter Jason Segel. He gets to Looney Tunes Land by his nice-guy persona. He seems like a good dude. He calls up Warner Bros. to ask what he can do to help save the franchise.

They explain the situation and then agree to let “Doctor Dunk” help out. That’s when things get interesting.

Now I’m not a scriptwriter or anything like that so bear with me. Jason Segel would make a big play similar to what Bill Murray did.

Maybe it’s only an assist to Kobe, or perhaps he recreates his infamous “shirt over his head” dunk. Who knows? Anyway, that play inspires Kobe to make one last play at the buzzer to win the game and save the world — reaching 101 points and the all-time NBA (single-game) record.

If I’m being honest, this is a bit far-fetched. In no way would the Tune Squad beat the Monstars in this made-up story.

The Tune Squad is victorious once again!

Stay “tuned” for my next article in this series, where we head to the ice, giving the Space Jam effect to the NHL.

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