‘Space Jam’ Wasn’t the Only Move Michael Jordan Appeared In
There are few athletes in the world like Michael Jordan. Despite being retired from basketball for nearly 20 years (or over 20 years, if you’ve mercifully blocked his time with the Washington Wizards from your memory), Jordan is still a celebrity very much in the public eye.
Not only is he the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets, but he’s still remembered by most basketball fans as the greatest to ever play the game.
Jordan obviously made plenty of media appearances during his career. One of his most famous was in the film Space Jam. But did you know that’s not the only movie Jordan appeared in?
Michael Jordan, the celebrity
To put Jordan’s Space Jam role into proper context, it’s important to understand who Jordan the celebrity was during the 90s.
In a time before social media, where every person with an internet connection can become a star, Jordan towered above other athletes of his era. You could argue that others were greater — Babe Ruth dominated baseball in a way Jordan wasn’t quite able to in basketball.
You could also argue other athletes were more important — Muhammad Ali’s activism and bravery outside the ring was almost as integral to his legacy as his punching ability.
But as an icon, Jordan stands above the rest. He was THE athlete of the 90s, so much so that he’s still revered today more than 20 years after the fact. Jordan was a marketer’s dream. His legendary endorsement deals with brands like Nike, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Hanes, and Ballpark Franks helped turn them into household names.
That’s why Jordan’s decision to make Space Jam was a no-brainer for all involved parties.
Michael Jordan’s appearance in ‘Space Jam’
It may not hold up as classic cinema, but Space Jam remains one of the great marketing opportunities of all time explored in a movie. One on hand, you had Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes characters. While they may not have been as popular as they were in their heyday of the 50s and 60s, they still represented some of the most marketable cartoon characters ever.
On the other hand, you had Jordan. Jordan at this point was post-comeback and had won multiple championships. He was one of the biggest stars in the world. Having his name on any movie was almost certain to guarantee it was a hit, despite his lack of acting experience.
Space Jam was brand recognition at its finest: put some of the most iconic cartoon characters in the same movie as one of the world’s most iconic athletes. To pardon the pun, it was a slam dunk of an idea that paid off. It made over $250 million at the box office. It also spawned a sequel which is now in production: Space Jam 2 starring LeBron James and a whole host of other current NBA superstars.
While Space Jam is Jordan’s most memorable appearance in a film, and his most prominent, it’s not his only one. So what other films did Jordan appear in?
Other movies Michael Jordan appeared in
Jordan also made a cameo in the 1998 Spike Lee film He Got Game. The film stars another NBA star, Ray Allen, as Jesus Shuttlesworth. The story is about the temptations faced by a high profile recruit while trying to reconnect with his convicted father, played masterfully by Denzel Washington.
In the movie, Jordan makes a brief cameo appearance as himself. Most of Jordan’s TV and film appearances are as himself — he’s never acted in a role where he’s playing a character. His most recent appearance is in the ESPN documentary series The Last Dance. The ESPN series chronicles Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan doesn’t appear to have much of a career in acting, and it doesn’t seem as though he wants one. It’s a certainty his six rings are enough to satisfy him — it’s doubtful he’d ever want or need to add Oscar gold to that collection.