It was the stuff of dreams. Even in Nigeria, we knew that Michael Jordan was the best basketball player in the world. On the weekends NTA 2 Channel 5 would play select matches from the NBA. Kids didn’t really fancy the start and stop progression of basketball. What we wanted to see were the highlight reels where we saw men defy the laws of gravity.
In 1996, kids around the world wanted to fly. Why? ‘Space Jam’, the Hollywood movie that brought the adorable Bugs Bunny and his Royal Airness Michael Jordan together.
Michael Jordan was everybody’s fan favourite when the reels came on. Seeing the bald Chicago Bulls player dribble, meander in the air, dunk and slam on his opponents were glorious. Prior, to Michael Jordan dominating the sport, the only global sports star that was a household name was Maradona. M.J was the Maradona of basketball. He really had the ‘hand of god’.
When the production of the movie had started Michael Jordan was preparing to get back into basketball from his retirement. MJ infamously retired in the ’93-’94 season and tried his hands at baseball which he sucked at.
Even though MJ was out of the game, he was still popular to star in his own movie. Space Jam, in which Michael Jordan plays himself helps a collection of Warner Bros characters defeat the Monstars team in a charged game of basketball.
Space Jam was released on November 10, 1996. Despite critics bashing it, the movie would go on to rake $230.4m worldwide against a budget of $80m.
It’s not only kids who watched the movie, adults also did. The soundtrack which had rap songs also helped the movie make a mark in Hip-Hop. Jay Z also ghost wrote Bugs Bunny’s rap.
20 years after, Space Jam is still a fresh fantasy basketball movie. In the history books, no basketball movie has made more money at the box office than Space Jam.
While the possibility of a sequel still looms, it is more than unlikely anyone would top Michael Jordan and his animated toon mates who had the greatest comeback in basketball.
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