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Minor spoilers for Space Jam: A New Legacy lie ahead.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is aiming to put a fresh spin on the classic franchise, which was birthed by basketball legend Michael Jordan back in 1996. This new look includes bringing in contemporary NBA superstar LeBron James. Despite this, there were some who were hoping Jordan would show up at some point in the movie. Unfortunately for those fans, His Airness didn’t make it into the Looney Tunes’ latest big-screen outing. But as it turns out, the creatives did try to bring in Jordan, and they even wanted to reference his ESPN docuseries, The Last Dance.
For those who aren’t in the know, The Last Dance was a 10-part docuseries that aired last year. The show chronicled the final championship run of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls and also tracked their exploits through the ‘90s as a whole. While some parts of the show received mixed to negative responses, the production as a whole received acclaim for its examination of the team and Jordan himself.
Given the cultural impact of The Last Dance, it makes sense that Space Jam: A New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee would've liked to reference the show in some form. As he explained to EW, he and his team were staying positive when it came to possibly landing Michael Jordan, and they had a very meta idea in mind:
We were holding out hope, but also knew that the likelihood was going to be very remote. Especially after The Last Dance came out, I was like, we've got to be able to do something, even like a tag at the very end after the credits with Bugs showing him the movie and saying, 'What do you think, Doc?' And just Jordan going, 'I took that very personal.' I wanted to do it! It would have been fantastic, but our movie is our movie and Space Jam is Space Jam.
The line Malcolm D. Lee paraphrased is one that became synonymous with Michael Jordan as The Last Dance progressed. At certain points in the series, Jordan would coin some variation of the phrase, “...and I took that personally” while reflecting on his exploits. The line took the internet by storm, inspiring countless memes and even a Saturday Night Live sketch.
The proposed Space Jam: A New Legacy scene would have actually been a funny way to wrap up the movie, and it would’ve fallen in line with the meta nature that occasionally accompanies the Looney Tunes. Still, the film did manage to pay homage to Jordan in a different way.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.