This One Shot From The Space Jam 2 Trailer Is Kind of Brilliant

A begrudging recognition from a totally-unbiased Bulls fan.

I’ve never been prepared to hatewatch a movie more than Space Jam: A New Legacy, for reasons that have everything to do with a fanatical devotion to Michael Jordan and the 90s Chicago Bulls and literally nothing else. Seeing LeBron James in any position that implies an equivalence with Jordan (which is objectively a fair argument, and subjectively blasphemy) gets my blood boiling.*

But after catching the trailer after it dropped this morning, and for the most part the movie looks OK enough if a bit noisy, I found myself briefly and begrudgingly blown away by a shot towards the very end.

For one thing, Lola’s back! It’s great to see the Tune Squad’s small forward (and honestly their second-best player all along, even though they made Bugs the co-captain in the original movie) in her natural element, kvetching over her less overtly sexualized design and all. But for another, that shot is actually an homage to one of the most iconic images in basketball history, also featuring LeBron James about to abuse the rim.

Morry Gash, The Associated Press

For the uninitiated, that’s Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat, a basketball legend in his own right, from the first year he and James joined forces down in South Beach. It was a whole thing, maybe you remember. The prospect of those two playing together inflamed the basketball world the moment it was official, and while the Heat fell well short of the lofty expectations James set for themselves, they still terrorized the league for the four years James and Wade (and their co-star Chris Bosh) played together, making four consecutive NBA Finals in the process, and nearly setting the record for the longest win streak in NBA history.

Never forget who stopped you, Miami. Never forget.

This photo, with an airborne James about to slam the rock home like an avenging angel, Wade heralding his arrival like a horseman of the apocalypse, and the Bucks defenders milling in the background helplessly, encapsulates that team like no other. It’s such a legendary image in basketball circles that I didn’t even remember that it wasn’t an alley-oop until looking the play up while writing this. That’s how powerful the psychosomatic trauma from being a Bulls fan during those years is.

I still have no clue if the second Space Jam will be any good, and I will brook no arguments from anyone that the first one was anything less than a cinematic masterpiece. But if absolutely nothing else, this shot is proof positive that someone making the sequel knows what they’re doing.

This will be a fun hatewatch, indeed.

*In fairness, I will say this for LeBron now; if his performance as himself in Trainwreck is any indication, he’s a better actor than Jordan. The old Tune Squad jerseys were better though.

Writer. Nerd. Shithole-American. A monster of many words trying to be a man of all of them.

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