Air Bud fans are absolutely thrilled that ESPN chose to show the film on Friday night. With live sports still mostly absent, the Disney-owned channel has taken to airing classic games and sports movies to fill some slots. The Mighty Ducks, Glory Road, Miracle, and other fan-favorites have gotten a chance to shine. Saturday was Buddy’s turn in the spotlight. For the younger readers here, 1997 brought the film starring a dog that plays basketball to the masses. It was a big enough hit that it spawned multiple sequels and a couple of spin-off movies. (Disney really does still make the “buddies” movies as a part of their own continuity! Look it up.) Well, The Athletic took some time to talk with the people behind the film and see how it all came together. Their words don’t disappoint.
Buddy’s owner Kevin DiCicco told the publication how he found the stray and then got him on the path to playing basketball. “It was clearly when I put the hoop up that his magic really came into play. It took nearly six months and about 4,000 attempts before he sank his first basket, but clearly basketball is what put him on the map. We put a little olive oil on the ball, because in the beginning it was Buddy’s saliva that coated it. This cuts to the chase a little bit. What he’s actually doing is biting at (the ball) and jumping at the same time. That’s what gives it elevation.”
my happy place pic.twitter.com/jErks6LyYw— Air Bud 🏀🐕 (@AIRBUD) June 6, 2020
“Once we trained Buddy to sink baskets consistently, we sent an amateur video into “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” We sent a copy of that same tape to the “Stupid Pet Tricks” producer of David Letterman. They gave me a call about two weeks later,” he continued. “Now, David Letterman does not actually see the trick (beforehand). The producers see the trick and book you. So, when you actually make the show, Letterman sees it live for the first time. His reaction is very spontaneous. Buddy sank the second basket. Took Letterman by surprise. The crowd went crazy. And Letterman brought Buddy back for an encore.”
Robert Vince was the producer of Air Bud, and Buddy’s audition is what convinced them to go forward with the project.
“[His owner] came to our office with the dog. We set up a full basketball court in the parking lot at the Malibu Country Mart. I think it was like 2:30 p.m. I was expecting that systematically if you placed the ball in the exact right place the dog hits it, it goes in,” he shared. “But Kevin started playing basketball with the dog. (Buddy) was hitting shots from every angle, and it was going in. School had just gotten out. All of a sudden we had this crowd of kids watching this dog play basketball. I was like, Huh.”
Vince continued, “Kevin had been working with Paul Tamasy and Aaron Mendelsohn, who were young, aspiring writers that really hadn’t done anything. They had this script that wasn’t fully formed. We started developing a script with them beyond where it was. We injected this idea of using the town, which became Fernfield, as a modern Mayberry (from “The Andy Griffith Show”).”
Did you catch Air Bud while it was on? Let us know in the comments!
People are pumped
Air Bud is on ESPN right now and I can’t be any happier🙌🏽❤️ pic.twitter.com/PREB71N0lj— © Allen © (@Allen_Phil_413) June 6, 2020
Who cries during this scene in air bud pic.twitter.com/tnNMfdyTeV— Matthew reist (@ReistMatthew) June 6, 2020
Just a weird moment
Air Bud on ESPN. I loved this movie as a kid. pic.twitter.com/YyOB2o7ScT— Kevin Rozell (@Zellyanks) June 6, 2020
Mugsy told me to turn to espn and Air Bud on smh pic.twitter.com/6eMxlEz6oU— Slim Reaper (@DonteMarvin) June 6, 2020
Little bit scary
Saw Air Bud trending on twitter and I panicked.
Thankfully it's only because Air Bud is airing on ESPN right now.
You're welcome. pic.twitter.com/3BOdaoQkiG— Daren Stoltzfus (@DarenStoltzfus) June 6, 2020
Time to hoop
Air Bud is currently airing on ESPN. This was one of my favorite movies as a kid in the 90s pic.twitter.com/CKtRHCHes5— Jon (@Jon415SF) June 6, 2020
Air Bud is on ESPN right now. Glad they are finally recognizing a generational talent.— Millennial Man 🧢. (@asap_cochy) June 6, 2020
Air Bud better
Some say the last dance was good. They must have not seen Air Bud yet, this is 100x better.— Airbud Burner Account (@Airbudburner) June 6, 2020
I just sat here and watched Air Bud like I was 10 years old, and loved every second of it.— Dustin Craig Brewer (@dustinbrewer12) June 6, 2020
This is a great point
The wildest part about the movie Air Bud isn’t that a dog plays basketball, it’s that 4th graders score 82 points in the final game— jamflowjack (@j_corrigan78) June 6, 2020