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While Space Jam: A New Legacy is bringing back the lovable Looney Tunes for another game of basketball, they’ll be led by a new face this time around. NBA superstar LeBron James is taking the baton from Michael Jordan, as the athlete will seek to do justice to the franchise. While James ultimately won the lead role in the long-awaited sequel, there are a number of players who could’ve taken the reins. So what made James the right star for the job? Well, director Malcolm D. Lee has the answer.

Most likely know by now that a Space Jam sequel has been in the works for a while. There were a number of different versions over the years, which featured athletes like Tiger Woods and Tony Hawk in the lead role. It wasn’t until 2014 that LeBron James and his SpringHill Company production banner got involved and truly gave the project some momentum. This actually goes hand in hand with what Malcolm D. Lee said about James when I spoke with him about the upcoming. Because Lee put a strong emphasis on the reach he has within society:

There’s very few athletes who are transcendent the way LeBron is, you know? He’s excellent at his sport, he’s a champion, and he excels at it. But he also crosses over to other parts of our consciousness. He’s not just a pitch man, but he’s also somebody that kids look up to, that sells products, that is charismatic. So there’s very few people that could’ve filled these shoes for a next iteration of Space Jam. So we were blessed to be able to have him and that he was talented enough to make this character, who’s a little bit different, left of center than he is, very believable and have the emotional kind of resonance that the movie does.

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LeBron James certainly has created a remarkable legacy for himself. On the court, he’s pulled off plenty of incredible feats and has multiple championship titles to show for it. And off the court, he’s established himself as a savvy businessman with ventures that range from the restaurant world to the music industry. In short, there are plenty of reputable athletes out there but very few that stack up to King James.

One could also argue that LeBron James’ status as a family man also makes him a perfect fit for a Space Jam movie. This latest film puts a heavy emphasis on the relationship between this fictional version of James and his big-screen son, Dom, who aren’t quite seeing eye to eye. So it’s possible James’ interactions with his real-life kids helped inform the way he approached the role.

However, it’s safe to say LeBron James has never had to deal with his son being kidnapped by a mischievous algorithm and challenged to a game of basketball in order to get him back. That, I would imagine, is something only movie magic can create. Check out the trailer down below:

Space Jam: A New Legacy is yet another notch in LeBron James’ belt of achievements and, with his growing career as an actor and producer, it’ll be interesting to see what he does next. But in the meantime, you can check out his tenure with the Tune Squad when the movie arrives July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.

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