Space Jam, the inexplicably timeless story of Michael Jordan joining the Tune Squad to keep the Looney Tunes free from eternal slavery on Moron Mountain, has somehow never released its hold on us. It’s been 20 years since the highest-grossing basketball film of all time debuted in theaters, and not an NBA season has gone by without whispers or rumors of a sequel. There's even a "Space Jam" colorway of the Jordan XXXIs dropping on Saturday. LeBron James is the logical successor to His Airness (though Jordan himself prefers Blake Griffin), but picking new Monstars from the current crop of NBA players is always the best part of Space Jam 2 speculation.
Devising your own Monstar roster is recession proof. It’s the one aspect of Space Jam that’s unequivocally still worth arguing about, seeing as the Looney Tunes, R. Kelly power ballads (see: “I Believe I Can Fly”), and Newman are no longer as prominent as they were in the ’90s. The Monstars, though, are still an intricate riddle to unravel, mostly because the original Monstars team was transparently and unforgivably flawed. The Nerdlucks, the little aliens from Moron Mountain who possess the "magical" power to steal the skills of literally any basketball player on the planet, somehow wasted two roster spots on height-based novelty acts in Muggsy Bogues and Shawn Bradley. Larry Johnson is at least justifiable, seeing as he posted some of the best numbers of his career (20.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists) in 1995-96 when the film was shot. Even so, it’s still surprising given the level of talent that went untapped by these little, weird space carnival creatures.
Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing were all-world talents, and like most folks operating in the ’90s era, had their dreams crushed by Michael Jordan. But they were future Hall of Famers and members of the 1992 Dream Team, thus forming a dominant tandem. Of course, guys like Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shawn Kemp were also available at the time. Even young guns like Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, or Rasheed Wallace would have been awesome to see. But no, the Nerdlucks didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Every villain has a fateful flaw, and theirs was not conducting a proper scouting report.
After much deliberation, here is a new and improved Monstars roster, built to destroy LeBron James and the Tune Squad once and for all.
Illustrations via Christopher Mineses