For a certain generation, there is no better sports movie than the unforgettable Space Jam. The 1996 basketball adventure movie starred Michael Jordan doing what he does best with a bunch of cartoon characters. The greatest basketball player ever had to come to the rescue of the Looney Tunes after they were almost enslaved by aliens wanting to make them a theme park attraction.
Bugs Bunny and co. agreed they would allow themselves to be enslaved if they lost a game of their choosing against the Nerdlucks. Little did the Looney Tunes know the tiny little Nerdlucks were going to steal the basketballing powers of the NBA’s finest to become the Monstars.
We’re not going to be rating the Looney Tunes, or Monstars, but the NBA stars who had their powers stolen by the Nerdlucks. These are the basketballers who were in the original cast of Space Jam.
Larry Bird is Michael Jordan’s golf buddy near the beginning of the film when the Bulls legend gets sucked down the hole by the Looney Tunes. Jordan is playing a round gold with his friends Larry, Stan, and Bill Murray. He is one of the all-time greatest NBA players, and has three MVP awards to go along with his three NBA championship rings.
Bird was a massive star in the 1980s, and the legendary shooter was the main man in his Boston Celtics team of the 1980s. When one of Michael’s friends comes to his aid to save the day, fans might have thought it would be Bird, but instead Bill Murray enters the game.
There were definitely better centers around the NBA at the time of filming, and we’re not sure why the Nerdlucks didn’t pick another giant player. They went for Shawn Bradley, who had a pretty solid career, but he didn’t really set the league alight. Bradley was a great blocker and a big part of Philadelphia’s, New Jersey’s, and Dallas’s defense.
He had to wait until the 2000s to get to the playoffs, but Bradley does rank in the top 20 career blockers in NBA history. The 7ft 6 center might not have been a huge attacking threat in the league, but he was a destroyer of opponent scoring chances.
Patrick Ewing was a star of the NBA before Space Jam, and he made his way to the All-Star game a total of 11 times in his career. He is a New York Knicks legend after spending 15 years on their roster. Ewing also played as center, so the Monstars had plenty of height in their team.
He was never fortunate enough to win the NBA championship with the Knicks, but Ewing’s impact on the league will not be forgotten. The 7ft star was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 after a career spent dominating opponents at both ends of the court.
Larry Johnson was playing for the New York Knicks when Space Jam came out after trading from Charlotte. The power forward had just made the All-Star team and looked set to have one of the most memorable basketball careers ahead of him.
Injuries slowed Johnson down later in his career, and he only had ten years in the NBA before retiring due to chronic back pain. Johnson was an exciting player and was the number one draft pick in 1991, but unfortunately, injuries got the better of him and halted his rise.
Height isn’t everything in basketball, and Muggsy Bogues was able to succeed despite standing at just 5ft 3in. He was drafted as the number 12 overall pick in 1987 and was a big-time player in the league in the years leading to Space Jam’s release. Bogues was a great point guard who knew how to manipulate the court to set his teammates up but was never a big scorer. His role in the team was to get others playing instead.
Charles Barkley is one of the greatest players of the 1990s, and if it weren’t for Jordan, he’d have won more than one MVP award. The power forward was named in the NBA All-Star team 11 times and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
Barkley’s physique made him one of the most dominant power forwards of his generation, and his career rebound average of 11.7 shows he liked a fight. He was a prolific scorer for all three franchises he represented in the NBA and even took the Phoenix Suns all the way to the championship series. Barkley is currently an analyst and is arguably one of the greatest players to never win an NBA championship.
Obviously Michael Jordan was pretty good, he was the star of the show. The reason why the Nerdlucks didn’t steal Jordan’s powers in the film was because he was in the middle of his baseball experiment that didn’t really work. He is the greatest basketball player of all time, earning six championship rings, and five MVP awards. Jordan was made a member of the Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the face of basketball for almost 20 years.
These are the players deemed worthy enough to feature in the animated classic Space Jam. They were all good players, but we reckon a few of the spots could have gone to other players who were lighting up the NBA during the ‘90s.