The Tune Squad was on their last leg. Injuries piled up for the Looney Tunes characters thanks to the dirty play of the Monstars.
Bill Murray’s Cameo in Space Jam
Originally, the Groundhog Day star wasn’t supposed to save the day. He was solely intended to appear on the golf course earlier in the film, where he gave MJ and Larry Bird the business. That was all he had scheduled — show up, play golf, and go home. He wasn’t interested in working in animation.
Making conversation with director Joe Pytka, Murray grew interested in how the filmmaker planned to incorporate the live-action and animated sequences in the final game. He found it compelling enough to be a part of it.
Alas, the deus ex machina was born.
Murray, a Chicago native and lifelong Chicago Bulls fan, took command of the basketball team as soon as he showed up. He drew up a play but was quickly reminded they were on defense. Like any playmaker who’s called in at the last second, Murray knows his talents are better used elsewhere than on that end of the court.
What Murray does is distribute. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel Live in May 2020, Murray reminds us that he was the one who assisted Air Jordan’s game-winning half-court dunk:
“People forget that I got the assist on the game-winning basket,” Murray said. “So easily forgotten… I stole the ball, I made the pass, I got nothing. I wasn’t even interviewed after.”
Similar to his golfing ability, Murray is throwing darts out there.
Although Murray was a passing magician in the film, the former Saturday Night Live, Caddyshack, and Charlie’s Angels actor wasn’t able to participate in the on-set pickup games brought into the public eye in ESPN’s The Last Dance.
“I don’t think my shoes were new enough. I think my shoes were nowhere near new enough for the game,” Murray said on Flying Coach with Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll.
While his invite was lost in the mail, Murray was able to witness some of the best basketball players on Earth, like Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller and New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing, play up close in the specially-constructed workout facility.
“I couldn’t believe that basketball court, [continued Murray]. 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.”
Produced by longtime Hollywood mainstay Ivan Reitman, Space Jam made $230.4 million at the worldwide, making it the highest-grossing basketball film of all time. Murray, Wayne Knight as Stan Podolak served as the comedic focal points while Danny DeVito voiced the villainous Swackhammer.
Warner Bros. is running it back for Space Jam 2 (officially titled Space Jam: A New Legacy); this time starring Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James. NBA players Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Kyle Kuzma will feature along with WNBA players Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, and Chiney Ogwumike. It’s no Loki, Batman or Star Wars, but plenty of new characters are set to appear. Don Cheadle is set to co-star.
The movie has a release date of July 16, and will take take on Marvel’s Black Widow at the box office. It will also be available to stream on HBO Max.
I’m assuming another comedian will supplant Murray, who will reprise his famous role as Dr. Peter Venkman in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The sequel will mix nostalgia and spark new fandom. It’ll be hard to beat the first time we saw Bill Murray’s triumphant entrance.