For years, Lebron James has been trying to get a sequel to 1996's Space Jam off the ground. Now, it appears that it’s finally happened, as the project has a screenwriter and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin in talks to be behind the camera. However, now the director of the first Space Jam is warning that the sequel should be abandoned, because the modern NBA just doesn’t have a deep enough roster to make it work.
Joe Pytka has only directed two feature films to date, but one of them was the original Space Jam, starring Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. He recently told The Hollywood Reporter than any attempt to recapture the magic of Space Jam was "doomed," because the collection of players that were available to be in the first film was unique, and simply doesn’t exist today.
When we did Space Jam, there was a perfect storm of players and ex-players available — Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing. They all had a persona that complemented the film. There are none around like that now.
It’s certainly true that the roster that made up the original Space Jam included many who are still considered some of the greatest to play the game. Even at the time, Michael Jordan was viewed as the greatest of all-time. While I’m the last guy to make statements regarding the current state of the NBA as compared to the mid-1990s, I will say, that names like Larry Bird and Charles Barkley are those that even non-fans recognize. There’s a reason that when several of the same players were picked for the Olympics a few years before Space Jam, it was called a "Dream Team." It’s difficult to say if there are many players today that would resonate with moviegoers who don’t follow basketball.
Joe Pytka isn’t done there either. He also points out that what made Space Jam ultimately work was that Michael Jordan was the "biggest star on the planet." This is an accolade he does not apply to Lebron James. While there was a time when Lebron James was the best player in the NBA, today that title would likely be given to Steph Curry, and since Space Jam 2 won’t be out for a couple of years, Lebron’s star may fall even farther by then. By the time the movie actually hits, will anybody care about Lebron James?
Is Joe Pytka right? Lebron James notwithstanding, does the NBA have enough current or recent players to build a team to rival that of the original Space Jam? Let us know which players you would cast in the comments below.