Sports

In Space Jam 2, LeBron Should Play for the Monstars

LeBron James and Space Jam's Monstars
LeBron poses with his new teammates.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Warner Bros. and Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Climate change. A widening class divide. Space Jam 2 not having a cast. This week, humanity was finally able to cross off one its three great scourges (the Space Jam one). Basketball stars Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Chris Paul, Diana Taurasi, and Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike have all reportedly agreed to appear alongside LeBron James in the film. The sequel has been in the works since at least 2015, when Warner Bros. announced it was partnering with James’ production company, SpringHill Entertainment. James is listed as an executive producer on the project, and, as recently as April, reports indicated that he was having difficulty convincing his fellow NBA players to join him on screen. That national nightmare is now over, though, and filming is slated to begin this offseason.

The original Space Jam, which starred Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, was a huge success when it came out in 1996. If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, it’s exceedingly simple: A monstrous space tyrant who owns an amusement park sends a team of aliens to enslave the Looney Tunes, who respond by challenging the diminutive creatures to a game of basketball for their freedom. The aliens agree, and they steal the talent of a cadre of NBA standouts, transforming themselves into an unbeatable superteam called the Monstars. Bugs and co. then recruit Jordan to help them in the fateful hoops game, wherein the Bulls star scores the winning dunk for the Tune Squad by stretching his arm 47 feet. It’s essentially The Tempest. (I am completely unfamiliar with The Tempest.)

While Space Jam 2’s cast appears to be settled, there are still plenty of unknowns about the actual plot. The script has reportedly undergone a series of rewrites, and it’s unclear whether it will be a remake or a sequel. The original movie took place before the NBA’s player empowerment era, and Space Jam 2 will surely need to be updated to reflect modern times, lest it look ridiculous. I may regret saying this, but Warner Bros. is free to use any of the following ideas on a royalty-free basis.

The Monstars need to be the good guys.
In 1996, the thought of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Johnson joining forces was essentially science fiction. But ever since LeBron took his talents to South Beach in 2010, forming a superteam has become the conventional way to win an NBA championship. Painting the Monstars as villains is plainly out of touch—they’re just being smart.

LeBron will join the Monstars.
LeBron just missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, so he’s not going to take any chances in Space Jam 2. Why would he want to share the floor with Daffy Duck and Pepé Le Pew when he just spent the season with JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley? If the aliens get the stars’ talents, then it’s assumed they’ll get their agents too. As such, Anthony Davis will be represented by Rich Paul, LeBron’s longtime friend who helped engineer the real-life Davis’ departure from New Orleans for Los Angeles. No way that Paul lets AD and LeBron play on separate squads, and the Monstars are a big-market team that will present them both with fantastic endorsement opportunities.

While this seems like it might ruin the film’s competitive balance, the Looney Tunes are just a few ACL and Achilles tears away from pulling off the upset.

An unsettled Chris Paul will have no choice but to play for the Tune Squad.
Have you seen his contract? The space amusement park makes a lot of money, but there’s no way its tyrannical owner can afford to pay Paul $44 million in 2021. He needs to be traded ASAP, and a team full of dated cartoons may be the only organization willing to give him a chance. Paul may not get along with anyone on his new team, but he’ll be joining a Bugs Bunny–Yosemite Sam backcourt that’s accustomed to conflict.

Magic Johnson should be in it, but don’t tell him it’s a movie.
This doesn’t really move the plot forward; it’s mainly just for the tweets. “An anvil fell on Bugs Bunny and now the Monstars are playing his crinkled torso like an accordion. This team is going to be tough to beat!”

Make Klay Thompson the star.
Sure, LeBron is the movie’s executive producer and the game’s biggest name, but does he really have the chops to carry Space Jam 2? Thompson, meanwhile, is fresh off a tour de force performance playing the Max von Sydow role in a Seventh Seal–inspired HMO ad. It was a breathtaking turn, one that makes the original Ingmar Bergman film look like a pile of dog crap.

This may seem like a lot for the filmmakers to consider, but they have time. Space Jam 2 isn’t scheduled for release until the summer of 2021, meaning its production cycle will be roughly as long as the combined filming schedules for Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, neither of which involved slam-dunking aliens.