How Would Space Jam Look If it Was Made Today (and Involved Footballers)?

​There are two kinds of people in this world: those who admit Space Jam is the greatest film of all time, and liars.

Brought out in 1996, the film follows the Looney Tunes’ battle against some aliens from extra-terrestrial theme park Moron Mountain in a basketball game. However, these pesky little aliens (The Nerdlucks) have stolen the powers of some of the NBA’s top players, so Bugs Bunny and Friends need to call on their good buddy Michael Jordan for some help to save the day.

Now, there’s just one problem for us. The film is about basketball, not football. But… wait for it... what if it did have footballers instead? And what if it was set today? These are the questions we all want to know the answers to.

Let’s take a look at how a 2020 version would look.

The Name

Right, we have a big problem. In basketball terms, ‘jam’ means to dunk the ball. That’s a very basketball thing to do. You might not have noticed, but we don’t have a lot of dunks in football (although that’s a rule change which should be made immediately).

‘Did you see Ronaldo’s 40-yard jam last night?’

‘Messi jammed it in top bins.’

See, this doesn’t work.

So, what do footballers do? They smash, they bang, they… crash? 

Space Smash. Space Bang. Space Crash. We need better verbs in football.

Anyway, let’s go with Space Smash. It’s the least awful of them all.

Michael Jordan

In 1996, there was no bigger name in basketball than Michael Jordan, who had just retired from the game for the first time.

However, in 2020, would the Looney Tunes really want a 57-year-old Jordan as their saviour? Probably not.

So, we’re looking for a global superstar who has just walked away from football to take up the role in Space Smash (I know, I don’t like the name eitherand score all the goals for the Tune Squad.

We could take Xavi, but he doesn’t do enough of the scoring. Ronaldinho would be a good option, but he’s a little preoccupied after getting arrested in Paraguay. How selfish.

What’s that? The studio is ready to strike a deal to get him out of house arrest early? That’s great! Sign him up! I’m sure he’s ready – playing five-a-side in a Paraguayan prison can’t be too different from suiting up alongside the Looney Tunes anyway.

The Challenge

So, the ​Nerdlucks get frustrated with their failing theme park and want to get a little ‘Looney’, so they travel over to the Tune universe and start fighting with Bugs Bunny and Co.

Because of the all-important ‘Give Them a Chance to Defend Themselves’ rule, the Looney Tunes have to come up with a way they can defeat the aliens. In Space Jam, they focus on the fact that the aliens are tiny, so they go for basketball, but being small in football isn’t really a problem.

Instead, of being tiny, the Space Smash aliens will have to be stupidly tall and gangly. Like if Peter Crouch combined himself with… another Peter Crouch.

The Tunes would see the skyscraper creatures and think they could weave their way around the aliens, but the Nerdlucks have a nasty trick up their sleeves. Time to steal some powers.

The Players

Any of Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues could probably still do a job on a basketball court, but stealing their powers in 2020 doesn’t have the same ring to it. Most of them were retired five years after the film came out.

However, at the time, they were all big names. Ewing and Barkley were only a few years past their dominant primes but were still major forces, so we’ll need two ageing superstars to fill their roles.

Ideally, we want the best players in the world, but let’s not kid ourselves, we’re not getting Cristiano Ronaldo. He would only want to be the star of the film and there’s no amount of money which could convince him to sign up to be a secondary character – even though there was enough to get him to do that ​horrific Shoppee advert.

Instead, Zlatan Ibrahimović sounds like he’s made for one of the role, and we’ll take Gianluigi Buffon to stick in goal. They’re both still great but undoubtedly not the monsters they once were. Perfect.

Bradley was a polarising talent who couldn’t decide if he was awful or elite, Johnson was an up-and-coming star and Bogues was a 5’3 sensation who defied the odds with each passing game. We need to replace all three perfectly.

Mario Balotelli can be our Bradley, since his life is pretty much like a cartoon anyway, and we’ll take Trent Alexander-Arnold to be our up-and-comer. Finally, instead of Bogues, let’s drop World Cup winner and fellow small man N’Golo Kanté in. 

Losing Their Talent

As soon as the NBA sees the five players have taken a turn for the worst, they postpone the league immediately because they don’t know what’s going on. Unfortunately, football isn’t that kind.

Instead of seeing football postponed, our five-a-side squad would just be publicly humiliated by their adoring fans. There’d be memes, blooper videos and articles about how we all knew Alexander-Arnold was a one-season wonder anyway.

Ibra would rock up to a park in Milan and be challenged by a group of kids, and after babbling on about how ‘only Zlatan can stop Zlatan’ or some other nonsense, he’d end up getting embarrassed by the kids.

By this time, ​Serie A would have been suspended, because they know how to react in the face of a crisis, but the ​Premier League would keep going until the very last minute. How do I know this? Well, where have you been for the last few months?

Getting The Gear

As we all know, Jordan could only play in his North Carolina shorts, and they’re so important that he makes Bugs and Daffy Duck go to the real world to find them in his house.

Instead, the pair would head to Ronaldinho’s homeland of Brazil to find his old Grêmio shirt which he keeps in his trophy room. Well, he’s probably got about 1,000 trophy rooms because of all those Ballons d’Or, but Bugs’ll get there eventually.

The Ultimate Game – First Half

It’s time for the showdown. Armed ​with his Grêmio shirt, Ronaldinho is ready to lead the troops into battle.

Taz, Lola Bunny, Daffy, Bugs and Ronaldinho take to the pitch, where they come up against the Monstars. The Tune Squad get comprehensively battered for the first half, with Alien Ibra pulling out bicycle kicks from all over and Alien Trent taking corners quicker than ever before.

With the score at 8-0, Marvin the Referee Martian brings the action to a close for half-time and our heroes look out on their feet. 

‘Only a king can kill a king’ Alien Ibra mutters en route to the dressing room. Everyone cheers, because of course they do.

The Secret Stuff

Jordan pulls out his ‘Secret Stuff’ (literally just water) and convinces his team to drink it because it’ll make them as good as him. So, Ronaldinho needs some Secret Stuff.

Ronaldinho turns to his bag in his locker and pulls out loads of counterfeit documents – passports, driving licences and birth certificates. Each of the Tune Squad has their own set, but the documents all specifically say that they’re great at football. The proof is right there.

Seeing Ronaldinho’s secret, the Tunes storm out to the court to ​make the greatest comeback of all time.

The Ultimate Game – Second Half

Now all questionably documented, ​the Tunes are unrecognisable as they play their way through the Monstars with ease.

Thanks to some Looney tactics, our heroes cannot be stopped, but Bugs ends up getting flattened after a Monstar lands on him. We need someone new. In Space Jam, they turn to none other than Bill Murray, but that’s a little too 1996 for us.

Instead of the Ghostbusters star, we’ll be greeted by Will Smith, who flies out the tunnel in his full kit to save the day.

Buoyed by Smith’s arrival, the Tune Squad go on to bag a last second winner after Ronaldinho elasticos his way past the entire Monstar team. It’s done. The world is safe. 


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *