NBA

‘Space Jam’: Bill Murray Shares His Favorite Off-Screen Moment With Michael Jordan and Larry Bird

Most of us know of comedic actor Bill Murray through his movies like GhostbustersGroundhog Day, or What About Bob. What many don’t know is how far Murray’s sports fandom goes. That’s probably why Murray agreed to make his cameo appearances in the 1996 film Space Jam.

The film starred Michael Jordan as himself and Bugs Bunny. Other NBA greats, including Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, were cast as well as many other Looney Tunes characters.

Murray is seen early in the film. While playing golf with Jordan and Bird, Jordan is abducted by Looney Tunes characters to help them become a winning basketball team. Fast-forward to the film’s end when Murray reappears offering to help in a critical period in a match game.

Bill Murray’s favorite memories of ‘Space Jam’

Recently, Murray revealed his feelings on filming Space Jam during an interview on the podcast, “Flying Coach with Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll.” He talked about getting to know Jordan and Bird. “It was fun … I couldn’t believe they built that basketball court,” Murray said. 

One of the contingencies for Jordan’s doing the film was that he wanted to be able to work out during the filming. So, Warner Bros. built a full-length basketball court on the lot along with a gym all under an inflated dome. The court became a regular for pickup games with fellow NBA players who appeared in the movie along with many others who just stopped by for a visit. Murray didn’t get to play, but he enjoyed watching.

But, the off-time during filming Murray enjoyed the most, he said, was between takes for the golf scenes, which were filmed in Lake Arrowhead. “In between takes, we’d go play golf for an hour at a time. Larry Bird, myself, Michael. That’s when I realized I did not want to play golf with Michael Jordan and his money.” Some of Jordan’s golfing stories, including betting $1 million on a game with retired quarterback Jim McMahon, are notorious.

“It was fun to play with him and goof around. It made it easier to shoot the scenes. It took a little while with him. But he’s a delightful person when you get to know him,” Murray said of Jordan.

The Last Dance

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The soon-to-be 70-year-old also appeared, very briefly, in The Last Dance, a docu-series appearing on ESPN earlier this year. The series focused on the 1997-98 season of the Chicago Bulls, and most especially Jordan.

One segment of the series referenced Space Jam with Murray appearing in a very brief cameo about the film. To hear Murray tell it, according to Clutch Points, it was a very exciting moment. “I’ve actually seen myself in the background,” he told the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal. “There! I’m in the background! Right there… Stop, play that back!”

Murray’s love of sports

Murray can often be found on the golf course. He’s played Pro-Am during many a PGA tour.

Being a Chicago native has made Murray a lifelong Bulls fan. He also loves baseball and is often seen watching a Cubs game. But, he’s more than a fan. According to “Gameday News,” Murray is a part-owner of some minor league teams including the St. Paul Saints and the Charleston RiverDogs.

His love of sports was passed down to his son, Luke, who has spent more than a decade working with collegiate basketball. Luke Murray currently serves as the assistant coach for the University of Louisville Cardinals, where his dad can also be found cheering on the Kentucky team.

‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

It was on and off for a while, but Warner Bros. officially announced in 2014, that a Space Jam sequel will star LeBron James. Originally simply called Space Jam 2, the film will include NBA stars Isaiah Thomas, JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, and more.

The film again co-stars Bugs Bunny along with many other Looney Tunes characters. Whether Murray will appear in a cameo in this sequel is yet to be shared.