Better Than the Original? LeBron Steps into MJ’s Shoes in Space Jam Sequel

Left: Bugs Bunny shakes hands with Michael Jordan at the Warner Bros. Studio store October 23, 1996 in New York City. Right: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles as he warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on February 26, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

(Left: Photo by Evan Agostini/Liaison, Right: Harry How/Getty Images)


25 years ago Space Jam delighted us all with the surprised mashup of legendary NBA player Michael Jordan and a cast of Warner Brothers’ luniest cartoon characters. This summer LeBron James, argued second best player behind MJ, will step into the spotlight to lead the sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy.

While nostalgia is a strong thing, rebooting entirely unique movie like Space Jam will most certainly be like catching lightening in a bottle. However, director Malcolm D. Lee, cousin of Spike Lee, says the movie will challenge the notion of it being just a cash grab.

“We go deeper and attempt to tug at the heartstrings,” Lee told Entertainment Weekly in an in-depth first look at the movie. “Space Jam: A New Legacy is a better movie than Space Jam..LeBron’s got that going for him.”

James filmed the the movie in the previous two off seasons and really delved into the role. The director and his costars alike were all surprised at the tenacity and seriousness in which he displayed as an actor. Though James admitted he was challenged by the long days.

“It’s definitely different from basketball,” James says. “A lot of long days. I would go train around 3:30 a.m. for about two hours. And then I would go on set and start preparing. There were some days that would go into the wee hours of the night. You always had to be ready.

“There were definitely nerves leading up to it, just not knowing what to expect,” James continued. “I wanted to dive into the character, even though I was playing LeBron James.”

The NBA star actually turned down the same role 15 years ago when Warner Brothers first tried to get the Space Jam sequel off the ground. Although James was already turning heads by being drafted into the NBA at 17, at the time the 21 year old was not ready to let something like an acting career distract him.

“I didn’t think I was ready to do anything of that magnitude,” James recalls. “I wanted to continue to focus on my game and give it as much as I could.”

The movie’s plot will revolve around James and his son getting sucked into a virtual reality to defeat an evil A.I. and the Goon Squad all while exploring LeBron’s character’s struggle to connect to his son.

“The general idea was the examination of Black fatherhood and how fatherhood could be unique to LeBron James specifically,” said James, who is a father of three in real life.”There are parents who want to push their kids to do certain things because this is what they do, but sometimes you have to look into a kid and be able to have an open mind and ear to help them become the thing they’ve dreamed of.”

The movie is set to have not only an all star cast of James, Bugs, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, but it will also feature a costarring Don Cheadle and is rumored that NBA colleagues Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, and more will be making cameos.

The film is set to release in theaters and streaming (HBO Max) concurrently on July 16th.

 

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