By Jeremy Arnstein
It has been a great up and down year for NBA fans all around. There have been a series of disappointing seasons like that of the Washington Wizards failing to make the playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans falling to the bottom of the league and even the San Antonio Spurs who capped off a franchise record 67 wins with a less than impressive playoff run. For fans of all of these teams and many more it is time to look away from the playoff action and turn to joyful offseason events like the NBA lottery tonight, the NBA draft, Free agency and most importantly… the beginning of the filming of Space Jam 2.
As a high school teacher who grew up a basketball fan in the 90’s it is hugely disappointing when I cleverly insert Space Jam references into my lessons and my millennial aged students look at me like I am a Monstar. I am extremely excited that the franchise is coming back with a new installment that will feature Lebron James playing the beloved Michael Jordan role. I am not the biggest fan of Lebron (although he is growing on me with his return to Cleveland), but there is no better person to take the space jam torch from Jordan. Lebron has the talent, career, and personality to assume the lead… but this brings me to the crucial decisions that lay ahead for the producers of Space Jam 2 that I think will either make the film legendary like the first one or a watered down sequel that never should have been made. The question is which NBA stars will make up the Monstar team that Lebron has to play against with his misfit band of Looney Tunes? A good Monstar has to bring a unique set of talent, athleticism, personality and humor. This is a much more complicated question than just picking the five most talented players in the NBA besides Lebron.
To answer this question, lets first review the original five and the strengths they brought to the film.
Center: Shawn Bradley – Shawn bradley was far from the most dominant center in the NBA during the 90’s but he was 7’5 and brought with him a goofy personality to the movie. He had a talent for doing the voiceover, and his height was needed to make the other stars (who were very center and forward heavy) look normal sized.
Power Forward: Patrick Ewing – Ewing didn’t have the personality that some of the other stars had in the film but he was as dominant and recognizable as any player in the late 80’s and through the 90’s. Patrick Ewing also brought with him the New York market which is needed for any american film to succeed.
Small Forward: Charles Barkley – Sir Charles assumed the role of the leader of the monstars and for good reason. He was by far the biggest personality besides Michael Jordan in the film. Barkley brought skills as an actor necessary for funny scenes like the one where he gets cooked by a playground girl and funny jokes during the therapy scenes.
Shooting Guard: Larry Johnson – Grandma-ma as he was called in his Charlotte days brought a physical presence and toughness to the monstars, a team that made these intangibles their montra when lacing up to hit the court.
Point Guard: Mugsey Bogues – Mugsey was a shockingly short player at 5’3 which likely landed him this role. His stature opened up a landslide of jokes and funny moments throughout the movie which otherwise would not have been possible.
So this brings me to the heart of this blog. Which five players in today’s NBA could come together to bring the chemistry needed along with the right level of talent, humor, personality, big name draw, and uniqueness to fill the shoes of the original 5. Sorting through the possibilities has been a nightmare for the amateur GM that I am, but below is my best list and the reasons I picked them with some alternative lists to follow.
My top choices:
Center: Marc Gasol – Gasol is huge. He is not as tall as Bradley was but he brings a girth that is unmatched by any NBA player. He also has a great sense of humor and his status as a foreign NBA player opens up the possibility of jokes not possible in the 90’s movie.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin – Blake has tremendous athleticism. He is a true high flying dunker who is recognized by even the flakiest NBA fans out there. He has also proven to be good in front of the camera with his series of funny KIA commercials and cameos in various films. Nick Young agrees too.
Small Forward: Nick Young – Nick Young is hilarious. He plays like a gunslinger from the wild west and talks like a high school prankster. He has accomplished little as an NBA player in his career but he still has decent recognition to the american fanbase from being involved with the Hollywood scene and funny quotes about how “good” he is. It would not be too hard to sell the idea of an alien thinking he was actually talented and steal his skills.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade – One of the greatest moments in Space Jam is when Jordan magically gives talents back to the players who lost them at the end of the film. He then plays 3v3 with them which inspires him to return to the NBA. Wade is best friends with Lebron. If Lebron needs any extra motivation to get his peers talents back, Wade needing his help would certainly give him an extra edge… and perhaps the 3v3 game at the end inspires Lebron to return to Miami? Or maybe Wade feels like he owes lebron and joins him in Cleveland to help him bring a title home? Possibilities are endless…
Point Guard: Isaiah Thomas – Thomas is a small quick guard who has stolen the hearts of many Celtics fans. He is the perfect player to assume the Mogsey Bogues role in the film. Any “little man” jokes that need to be put into the film can easily be absorbed by Thomas’s small stature.
Whether the producers of the film pick my five (I hope they do) or find a different combination of stars whoever plays these parts will be crucial to the film’s success. Below I have a list of other potential monstar squads who almost made my cut but didn’t for various reasons.
Option 2: Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, Lance Stephenson, Stephen Curry, Ricky Rubio
Option 3: Demarcus Cousins, Kristpas Porzingis, Jr Smith, Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul.
I would also add that Nate Robinson would absolutely make a list, probably taking Isaiah Thomas’ place if he was still an active player
The NBA has loads of talent. It also has many unique storylines and players these days that all have friendships, bonds and relationships with each other which would cater well to a humorous environment like the filming of Space Jam 2. I would love NBA fans around to post their choices for the monstar squad below in the comments.