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Space Jam’s Muggsy Bogues Reveals The One Cool Experience About Filming With Michael Jordan That He Had To Miss Out On

Michael Jordan in Space Jam
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

My sons are NBA junkies, so I’m constantly debating with them the positioning of Michael Jordan versus LeBron James on the All-Time Greatest list. They both dominated their sport of choice. They both went to multiple All-Star Games, and won multiple titles. Heck, they both even appeared in Space Jam movies opposite Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes gang! The comedy – a hybrid of live-action and vivid animation – came about at an unusual time in Jordan’s career, and while writing about his experience filming the movie, Space Jam co-star and NBA point guard Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues opened up about the one cool experience associated with the movie that he had to miss out on. 

When Michael Jordan agreed to film Space Jam, he was also plotting a return to the NBA after leaving the sport and giving professional baseball a shot. In order to get his body back into physical shape to meet the demands of the NBA season, Jordan had a gym built next to the Los Angeles studios where Warner Bros. needed him to film his scenes for Space Jam. (That’s just one of the 8 facts you might not have known about Space Jam.) The superstar would spend 10 hours a day filming, then play basketball for an additional three hours in the gym located on the next stage over. Those scrimmages were legendary, though Muggsy Bogues had to sit out of the games because he’d just had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. 

Opening up to CinemaBlend about having to sit out of those games, Muggsy Bogues admitted:

Oh, it was tough watching. But it was enjoyable too, because it was entertaining. The guys were going at it. They just had a lot of fun with it. It was in the summertime. MJ trying to make his way back into shape after coming back from his baseball experience. So it was fun.

Writing about the pickup games in his new book, Muggsy, Bogues recalls that the cream of the crop in the NBA at that time appeared in that gym to play against Jordan. Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, Reggie Miller, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber could be seen running games with Michael Jordan, who’d just spent the bulk of his day filming high-energy scenes opposite the Looney Tunes characters. Asked if NBA players were jealous that Muggsy Bogues got to co-star in Space Jam and they didn’t, the Charlotte Hornets point guard told CinemaBlend:

Well, no, not so much jealous, but you know, people didn't realize that (the movie) was going to turn out to be what it was. Because when you go to a sports movie, everybody just looks at it as the typical sports movie. But (Michael Jordan) included the Looney Tunes in it, and kind of put a different spin on it.

Needless to say, Space Jam went on to be a massive hit, and a cultural touchstone for so many kids who grew up on it through the 1990s and 2000s. The cast went on to have massive success, both on screen and on the basketball court – including Jordan, who won back-to-back-to-back championships in 1996, ‘97 and ‘98. Playing against the Monstars really upped his game, I suppose. 

If only the story ended there. Sadly, LeBron James’ Space Jam: A New Legacy didn’t live up to the expectations set by the original. We panned it in our review, and then the director of the original movie took LeBron James to task over the movie, which recreated several classic Warner Bros. characters but basically didn’t do anything creative with them. 

There are more engaging behind-the-scenes Space Jam stories in Muggsy Bogues’ self-titled book, which is available in stores right now. 

Sean O'Connell
Sean O'Connell

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.