Michael Jordan is not like many other basketball players. For example, few players have won six championships. Few gamers have made millions by launching a global brand that has served as the face of several other brands such as Nike, Gatorade and Hanes. Plus, few gamers starred in a movie at the peak of their career alongside Bugs Bunny.
Everyone knows Michael Jordan took time away from basketball to film space jam but do you know how he was able to do it without hampering his game? Let’s take a closer look at how MJ stepped away from the game to film the beloved children’s movie without missing a step.
The story of “Space Jam”
space jam represented an encounter of some of the most iconic cartoon characters in entertainment history, the Looney Tunes, with one of the most famous athletes in sports history. Michael Jordan had dominated basketball with three consecutive championships for the Chicago Bulls. Making a movie with Bugs Bunny seemed like a heavenly marriage.
According to Biography, the idea for the film originated from a television commercial. A Nike commercial that aired during the Super Bowl in 1992 saw Air Jordan teaming up with Bugs, aka “Hare Jordan”. The following year, the two teamed up to play against a team of cartoon aliens again.
From there, superagent David Falk brokered a deal with movie studio Warner Brothers to bring the two together on the big screen. The studio agreed and a deal was struck.
Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 season stats were impressive
Prior to filming Space Jam, Michael Jordan played minor league baseball for a season before returning to basketball. Jordan returned to the NBA midway through the 1994-95 season, but he looked a bit rusty at times (for his standards) and saw his team fall in the playoffs to the Shaquille O’Neal-led Orlando Magic. 1995-96 was Jordan’s true comeback season, as he had a full training camp to prepare for.
The difference was striking. Jordan played some of the best basketball of his career, leading the Bulls to 72 wins and an NBA Finals win over the Seattle Sonics in six games. According to Basketball Reference, Jordan’s numbers are down slightly, but he’s surpassed his past performance on his other stats. For example, he had a career-best field goal percentage from beyond the three-point arc.
It would be the start of a new dynastic run for the Bulls. They followed that epic season with two more NBA championships, with both Finals victories coming to the Utah Jazz.
It’s clear that Jordan’s time away from basketball while filming a movie didn’t prove to be detrimental to his game. So how did he do it?
The reason Jordan’s acting didn’t suffer while filming ‘Space Jam’
Filming on a Hollywood movie set can be a busy and chaotic place. Michael Jordan was an athlete by trade, but he was no stranger to show business. He had filmed commercials and appeared on TV shows like Saturday Night Live, so he probably knew what he was getting into. As hectic as it may be, Jordan put up some guardrails to ensure he could work on his acting even in the middle of the set.
According to CNBC, Jordan requested access to a basketball court during filming. He trained 5 hours a day. This ensured that his conditioning suffered no setbacks and his game remained sharp. It is obvious that his strategy worked. Jordan left his time with the Tune Squad right away and didn’t miss a step with the Bulls.
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