These Stories About The Pickup Games Michael Jordan Held On The Set Of ‘Space Jam’ Are Legendary


Warner Bros.

In the summer of 1995 Michael Jordan was coming off a rare loss in the playoffs to the Orlando Magic. He also happened to be shooting the film Space Jam – a movie that also starred several other NBA players.

Not one to rest on his laurels, especially after a rare playoff defeat, Jordan ordered Warner Bros. studio to construct a tented hardwood basketball court right there on the lot. Then, like moths to a flame, NBA players began showing up for what turned out to be some of the most legendary pickup games ever.

Reports ESPN’s J.A. Adande

Besides the movie co-stars such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, there were the likes of Grant Hill, Rod Strickland, Glen Rice, Dennis Rodman, Juwan Howard, Steve Smith and Cedric Ceballos. Shaquille O’Neal came by. Magic Johnson, less than a year shy of his return to the NBA, made an appearance. Reggie Miller showed up for what turned into a clear-out-and-let-em-go-at-it game, with the trash talk flying.

“It was like an NBA all-star game every day,” said Tracy Murray, who was coming off the third season of his 11-year pro career that summer.

Except it had regular-season intensity. So many players showed up that losing meant a two- or three-game wait to get back on the court. Veteran center Olden Polynice came by and made the mistake of thinking, “It’s the summertime, they’re going to be bulls—ing.”

“Come to find out, they weren’t bulls—ing,” Polynice said.

Then there is the story of how Don MacLean, the Pac-10’s all time leading scorer at the time, beat Jordan’s team before departing for an overseas trip.

Jordan told him, “Thanks for coming, make sure you come back.”

“I’m thinking: That was cool for him to say that,” MacLean said. “Not thinking …”

Jordan was plotting his revenge. When MacLean did show up a couple of weeks later, he played in the first game of the night.

“[Jordan] walks on the court, says, ‘I got MacLean,’ and did not let me touch the ball for the entire game,” MacLean said. “And I was trying. And he was not letting me touch the ball.

And that’s why MJ is the G.O.A.T.

Oh yeah, after all of those summer games Jordan seemed to do pretty well for himself. The Bulls went 72-10 and won another NBA Championship on their way to six in total.

Check out the rest of the story over at ESPN.