Why LeBron James Is Having Trouble Getting NBA Players To Appear In Space Jam 2

Looney Tunes characters in Space Jam
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

LeBron James is bringing back Space Jam to the big screen with a sequel starring himself and all our favorite Looney Tunes. Since the 1996 original starred Michael Jordan and a ton of NBA player cameos, basketball fans might imagine a contemporary dream team would be assembled this time around as well. It’s their chance, do their dance! However, recent reports indicate that various courtside politics have been getting in the way of more NBA stars joining Space Jam 2.

Last week, ESPN said LeBron James -- who is also an executive producer on the project -- had reached out to a number of top players but hadn’t been successful in closing deals with them. Early speculation pointed to the rate of pay being offered for the cameos, or other NBA players not being interested in being a sideshow to LeBron’s top billing. The Hollywood Reporter has now offered up a few more reasons why LeBron James has been having trouble recruiting more players for the highly-anticipated family basketball movie.

First off, Warner Bros is apparently in charge of finding NBA talent for Space Jam 2, not LeBron. Also, the franchise has close ties with the Nike brand, especially since inspiration for the film itself started from a Nike Super Bowl commercial called "Hare Jordan," directed by Joe Pytka, who would later helm Space Jam starring Bugs and Michael Jordan as well. LeBron James has a Nike deal of his own, so players associated with competing sneaker brands will likely not join in on the sequel.

The report points to Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Kevin Durant as no-gos -- since Curry has a contract with Under Armour, Harden with Adidas, and while Durant is part of Team Nike, he is working on his own Apple series based on his life titled Swagger.

Additionally, the sources say the movie starring LeBron James isn’t looking to feature a large number of other NBA players for the film anyway. Space Jam 2 will focus a great deal on James as the central character, along with a second teen lead named Dom, who has yet to be cast. The movie will also feature Sonequa Martin-Green, who will play James’ wife, and a character named Malik, who will be modeled after James’ real-life best friend since childhood and producing partner Maverick Carter.

Fans of the original will likely be a bit disappointed if no other players cameo in Space Jam 2, since the first one had over a dozen legends playing alongside the Looney Tunes and against a team of bully aliens. There are certainly a few NBA players who don’t have ties to these brands and would be interested in taking part in this exciting sequel. The movie directed by Terence Nance, produced by Ryan Coogler and Justin Lin, is scheduled to begin filming this summer and be released on July 16, 2021.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.