The Funny Reason Bill Murray Was ‘Never Invited’ To Michael Jordan’s Basketball Games On The Space Jam Set

Bill Murray, Michael Jordan, Lola Bunny and Bugs Bunny in Space Jam (1996)

Bill Murray has countless acting credits under his belt, ranging from his role as Ghostbuster Peter Venkman to his turn as the titular oceanographer in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Still, some may have forgotten that he played himself in Space Jam, in which he appeared as a golfing buddy, and later Toon Squad teammate, of Michael Jordan. Thanks to ESPN’s The Last Dance we recently learned that Jordan held games with NBA vets in a private gym while shooting the film. However, Murray never got the chance to get out on the court, and he believes he knows why:

I don't think my shoes were new enough. I think my shoes were nowhere near new enough for the game.

We can’t speak to the quality of the shoes Bill Murray was wearing at the time but, with NBA greats like Reggie Miller and Patrick Ewing on the floor, you can imagine how intimidating the caliber of footwear must’ve been.

During his appearance on Flying Coach With Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll (opens in new tab), Murray went on to explain just how amazing the basketball court itself was. And even though he never actually got to play, he still had plenty of fun watching the games:

I couldn't believe that basketball court. I mean it’s full size. They just took over this whole area and built this building for one movie with a weight room, a beautiful floor. And that was fun. I was never invited into that game, but it was fun to watch that game.

And who can blame him? Watching those skilled stars do what they do best had to have been overwhelming for him and, to hear Bill Murray tell it, there were plenty of players present:

They were awfully good, and it was great to see all kinds of different guys. And there were young guys and older guys, guys who were already out of the league. All kinds of different people there, and it was quite a situation. I was just a fan.

It definitely sounds like that was an unforgettable experience for Murray, who grew up a fan of the Chicago Bulls. As a celebrity himself, he’s surely been around plenty of stars, but there’s just something about athletes that makes people stand back in pure awe.

Despite the fact that Bill Murray never got to take his shot, he did come through in the closing moments of Space Jam. He even broke his “no defense” rule to help lead Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes to victory.

With Space Jam: A New Legacy on the horizon, there’s a chance another comedian will suit up and join the Toon Squad alongside Lebron James. And if one does, let’s hope his or her kicks are better than Bill Murray’s. We’ll see when the film opens in theaters on July 16, 2021.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.