“We got a real jam going down, welcome to the Space Jam!”
If there’s a movie that marked my childhood – with a red bull and incredible 90’s songs – it was Space Jam.
Whenever I see Children’s Day advertisements taking over all forms of media in the country, the song from this movie already starts playing in the back of my mind and I think to myself “Hmmm… It’s about time I watch Space Jam. I haven’t watched it this year, right…?” and then there’s a certainty: there I’ll be watching Space Jam again.
Back then, I already liked basketball. After Space Jam, my taste for the sport skyrocketed and Michael Jordan became one of my favourite players in the world.
(And I’m a Chicago Bulls fan to this day, even if I can’t follow NBA constantly or watched a game in real life. Yes, Bugs Bunny, it’s all your fault).
Celebrating our Children’s Week here at Lune Station, I bring you the game of the century: Space Jam! Along with curiosities on the production, a soundtrack more than amazing and a little tribute, but from the heart, to the incredible Michael Jordan!
Oh, and if you want to check other posts from this special week, Hekate wrote one about an anime she watched when she was a kid: Super Pig, Prince Iggy and the Magical Girls Satire!
So hop on Art’s wagon, ’cause we have a game to watch!
Michael Jordan: The Famous Air Jordan, Your Royal Airness on Space Jam
Michael Jordan was born on February, 17, 1963 on Brooklyn, New York – but when he still was very young, his family moved to North Carolina. Since he was a boy, he had strong ties with his father – and shared the taste for baseball – but out of admiring his brother Larry, also a great athlete, he started playing basketball and soon showed a great ability on the sport.
At first, he wasn’t accepted on the school team because he didn’t have a nice height, 5 11′ (meanwhile, I’m crying here in the corner with my sad 5 2′).
When he got to 6 3′, though, Jordan managed to get into the team and had a good performance – winning scholarship offers in order to play for Universities on United States. Choosing the University of North Carolina, he showed his brightness on the NCAA championship between colleges, playing against Georgetown and winning a victory with a 63-62 score on the last seconds – resulting in titles and a ticket to the NBA Drafts.
Starting his professional career in 1984, Jordan got a gold medal at the 84 Olympics and started playing for Chicago Bulls. Training for the competition, he perfected his game and soon debuted as one of the biggest stars on basketball. With great performances, plays and abilities in court, he soon became news and a favourite of the fans.
On his second NBA season, for instance, Jordan scored 63 points against Boston Celtics. Of course, it isn’t the only incredible feat from his great list of achievements and records – but it certainly announced that a great basketball star was rising on the NBA.
Playing for the Bulls, he got known for his scores and slam dunks during the games, always jumping great hights – which created the nicknames Air Jordan and His Airness.
The Air Jordan line from Nike was born there – with a contract signed with Jordan, the very first shoes brought the colours of Chicago Bulls to the brand. Another curiosity, Jordan had a clausule in his contract as professional player that allowed him to play basketball at any off season moment – known as the Love-of-the-game Clausule.
Another curiosity – that’s even pointed in Space Jam: Jordan always used his North Carolina shorts under his Bulls shorts.
With all his fame, though, Jordan also ran into problems with other players – such as Isiah Thomas, back then from Detroit Pistons, with whom apparently there’s still certain animosity. Since I, Artemis, am somewhat a rebel regarding tabloids and gossips, I’m not going to work with speculations about this subject or their careers.
In order to win the first three Champion titles to Chicago Bulls, Jordan got known for demanding a lot from his teammates. Despite that, it seems to have compensated with victories on the 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.
On the 1992 Olympics, Jordan was part of the basketball team formed by the greatest basketball players from that time, respected by adversaries from other countries – that team got known as The Dream Team.
On the next season, though, comments about his gambling habits added to the tragedy of his father’s murder during an armed robbery, made the NBA star announce his retirement.
During that time, Jordan started a career on baseball, playing the season for the Birmingham Barons. With an ordinary performance, soon Jordan went back to basketball and to Chicago Bulls, in pursuit of new Champion titles.
The next three trophies came to the Bulls during the 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons.
In 1999, Jordan announced another retirement, on account of mental and physical exhaustion. Nevertheless, assuming as co-owner and executive on the Washington Wizards, he was soon back in court for the team during 2001 to 2003 seasons. Realizing his last season would be in 2003, Jordan received many homages and ovations from all NBA.
“There’s no such thing as a perfect basketball player, and I don’t believe there is only one greatest player either. Everyone plays in different eras. I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent. I believe greatness is an evolutionary process that changes and evolves era to era. Without Julius Erving, David Thompson, Walter Davis, and Elgin Baylor, there would never have been a Michael Jordan. I evolved from them.”Michael Jordan (source: NBA)
In 2009, Jordan was added to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and, nowadays, he is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, from North Carolina – curiously, my father has a t-shirt with the Hornets mascot doing a slam dunk, that I always loved a lot when I was a kid; there’s also an old 90’s cap that I practically stole from him and wear it to this day on the swimming pool (and, to me, the mascot was always called Charlotte, even if its real name is Hugo).
To leave you with an idea of Michael Jordan’s achievements, here’s a little list with the main ones:
- Rookie of the Year;
- 5 times NBA MVP (most valuable player of the season);
- 6 times NBA Champion;
- 6 times NBA Finals MVP;
- 10 times All-NBA First Team (annually awarded to the best players of the season);
- 9 times NBA All-Defensive First Team (same logic as above, but with the best defensive players);
- Defensive Player of the Year;
- 14 times NBA All-Star (the All-Star game happens annually every February, and it’s an exhibition game with 24 players from the league, selected by voting);
- 3 times MVP All-Star (most valuable player of All-Star games);
- 50th Anniversary All-Time Team (NBA’s Top 50 Players);
- 10 scoring titles (or Scoring Champion. It’s obtained by whoever has the best average game score on the season);
- Retired with the highest average score on NBA, of 30.1ppg (points per game);
Yes, this is the “mini list”.
Oh, and of course: he alse went in court with the Looney Tunes in a decisive game for the freedom of Bugs Bunny and his friends!
Space Jam – Looney Tunes In Court
Space Jam is a movie by Warner Bros. released in November, 1996. Mixing the real world with cartoons, it brought the Looney Tunes playing basketball with Michael Jordan while rocking an awesome soundtrack.
This more than creative idea arose from an advertisement from the brand Air Jordan by Nike – bringing Bugs Bunny (or Hare Jordan, how he calls himself on the drawing) to the gym for the first time. At the end, we have the phrase
Essa idéia pra lá de criativa, entretanto, surgiu de um comercial da marca Air Jordan da Nike – trazendo Pernalonga (ou Hare Jordan, como ele se chama no desenho) para as quadras pela primeira vez. Ao final, temos a frase “This could be the beginning of a beaaaautiful friendship!” – and it really was!
And then the idea was born: why not make a movie with His Airness and the Looney Tunes playing together?
That’s how we’re taken to the Space Jam universe: the movie opens with Michael Jordan announcing his retirement from basketball in order to try his baseball career with the Barons – remember that retirement I mentioned on the 1993-94 season? According to Space Jam, Jordan played baseball, yes, but he was recruited by his friend Bugs to solve a little problem with aliens that wanted to enslave them.
On Moron Mountain, Mr. Swackhammer – an evil looking alien who smokes cigars and is voiced by Danny DeVito – is pulling his own ears off because the alien youth doesn’t like the attractions on his amusement park anymore: in other words, he needs new talents to keep everything up and running. The mini colourful aliens that work for him suggest the Looney Tunes and there the plan to take them by force to Moron Mountain to be slaves that entertain clients on the park without pause with a smile on their faces, repeating the same jokes over and over again is born.
(Something we see a lot on media with celebrities nowadays, right?)
Of Course, Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes have none of that – but the mini alies have super powerful weapons as “persuasion” (the classical Brazilian meme “let’s solve this on dialogue”).
Because of the aliens’ heights, the Looney Tunes challenge them to a basketball game, believing they’ll win. But the aliens go to the NBA courts and steal the talents of great names from that time – Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley – transforming into huge monsters with amazing talent.
And that’s when the Looney Tunes go to Michael Jordan for help, even if he insists he’s retired.
Of course, all this was pure marketing strategy from two huge brands coming together to increase sales.
Apart from that though, the movie is pure Looney Tunes craziness from start to end. It’s fun, it yields good laughs and it’s very well produced for a 1996 movie that put together real people with animations. But it also has its moments of remembering children that you can achieve whatever you want – just like Michael Jordan has flown in NBA’s courts, anyone has the capability of achieving their own dreams.
Another point I think is very important: it encourages sports. Sometimes, one child thinks that he/she’s bad at sports and doesn’t attend classes, because they haven’t found their sport – in my case, I avoided those classes, but I didn’t miss one that was basketball; besides having, many times, asked to play with other groups during recess. That creates habits – between many others – of healthy competition, team work and keeping the body healthy and in movement!
In regards to the movie, before Space Jam, we had Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988 – another classic that I hope to talk about here in the future – that also used the technology of putting together the real world with cartoon land in an amazing way. So here’s my movie suggestion, because it’s a must watch!
(I just leave a disclaimer that children who are too little might get impressed with the movie, because it involves cartoon character’s deaths)
And if you want, as a bonus, you can even access the official website for the movie’s release, directly from 1996 to nowadays: https://www.spacejam.com/. There you can find more production details and how everything was done – it’s worth the watch!
Another curiosity is that, during the filming, Jordan was getting ready to his NBA comeback. In account of that, a basketball court was built on set only for him to practice – and, constantly, Jordan used to train alone or with others that wanted to play as well.
Lastly, Space Jam grossed back then $230 million around the world – being the most successful basketball movie up until now. It also collected more than $1 billion with merch sales – after all, who didn’t want a Tune Squad t-shirt back then? I want one to this day (and one from Chicago Bulls).
We have here another achievement for Michael Jordan’s “little list”! Let’s see if someone will appear to break this record?
Bonus 1 – The 6 Times Platinum Soundtrack
With all certainty in the world, one of the things that made Space Jam even more special was the amazing soundtrack. Counting with famous artists from the 90’s, like Seal, Coolio and Salt N’ Pepa – among many others – it isn’t a surprise that it was a great success!
The soundtrack got a #2 position on Billboard 200 – apart from being double platinum certified in 1997 and, in 2001, six time platinum certified.
A platinum certification indicates the sale of one million album copies. In other words, Space Jam’s soundtrack, until 2001, sold 6 million copies guaranteeing six time platinum certification!
Bonus 2 – Space Jam 2: The Sequel With LeBron James!
With its release scheduled to July, 2021, now it’s LeBron James who’ll carry the legacy of Space Jam!
The sequel was rumored by years and Warner Bros. offered the role again to Michael Jordan, who turned it down all this time. That gave opportunity for another great name from nowadays basketball – NBA Finals MVP and Lakers Champion now in 2020 – to take on the movie sequel: LeBron James!
Those who follow NBA already know him, but for those who don’t: born in December, 30, 1984, LeBron played for Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat and, now, Lakers. From Ohio, he’s one of the most well known athletes nowadays, with many titles, Olympic medals and his own list of records. But we’ll have the opportunity for a mini tribute to him, like I did on this post with MJ, when Space Jam 2: A New Legacy is released!
Apart from that, the movie apparently will count with other names from North American basketball on the cast – both from masculine and feminine leagues! From what was already disclosed, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike will also star on it!
Another thing that has been said is that the movie was LeBron’s personal project – it seems like someone else is also a fan of the first one! Thank you, LeBron James!