While LeBron James has long been locked in as the star of the upcoming Space Jam 2, the remainder of the NBA-flavoured cast has seemingly taken some time to put together. That fact is becoming increasingly mystifying, given James’ NBA season is over and filming on the movie is now set to begin at some point over the looming American summer. As it turns out, the lack of NBA stars signing on to the movie has a lot to do with, would you believe, shoes.
It’s important to understand here that the original Space Jam was largely based on a “Hare Jordan” ad campaign from 1993 that first paired up Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny on-screen.
Because of that, the Space Jam franchise is intrinsically tied to Nike and Nike alone.
While LeBron was a relatively easy get as central star due to his status as a flagship Nike athlete, it means any NBA star with a shoe contract at any other company will simply not be able to be cast in the film.
The Hollywood Reporter suggests that Steph Curry and James Harden are virtually “next to impossible” to cast in the movie, given their signature shoe deals with Under Armor and Adidas respectively.
More to that though, other Nike athletes are reportedly opting out of consideration as well.
Giannis Antetokounmpo reportedly turned down a role in Space Jam 2, while Kevin Durant is reportedly pursuing a Hollywood career of his own and isn’t interested in piggy-backing off of LeBron.
While those names by themselves represent some of the biggest stars in the league, it’s worth noting that the Nike roster contains a laundry list of names who still could make an appearance in the film. Namely, Kyrie Irving, Dirk Nowitzki, and even our very own Ben Simmons.
Either way, the sequel to the hugely beloved 1996 film is reportedly set to centre less on a new cast of NBA players and more on an arc regarding LeBron’s in-film family. Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) has been cast as LeBron’s on-screen wife, while a yet-to-be-cast teen character named Dom will reportedly fill a second lead role alongside James.
Shooting on the film is scheduled to begin in July, a handful of weeks after the conclusion of this year’s NBA Finals.
Just who exactly winds up in the movie is anyone’s guess at this stage.