Space Jam Star Bill Murray Was Never Invited to Play Michael Jordan’s On-Set Basketball Games

Bill Murray admits he was "never invited" to join the star-studded basketball games played in the "Jordan Dome," the massive basketball facility Warner Bros. built for NBA super-star Michael Jordan during the filming of Space Jam. Murray portrayed a fictionalized version of himself who balked at playing defense when joining Jordan — alongside Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and other Looney Tunes characters — as a player on team Tune Squad, ultimately assisting Jordan in making the game-winning shot that saved the animated characters from lifelong servitude as galactic amusement park attractions. Reflecting on the making of Space Jam, the real Murray was more spectator than player:

"I couldn't believe that basketball court that they built, it was full-size," Murray said on the Flying Coach With Steve Kerr and Pete Carroll podcast. "They just took over this whole area and built this building for one movie with a weight room, a beautiful floor, and that was fun to hang around there. I was never invited into that game, but it was fun to watch that game."

Asked why he wasn't invited to play, Murray quipped, "I don't think my shoes were new enough."

"They were awfully good, and it was great to see all kinds of different guys, and there were young guys and older guys, guys who were already out of the league," Murray added. "All kinds of different people there, and it was quite a situation. That was just watching the game, I was just a fan."

Murray did have an opportunity to play another sport with Jordan during lengthy bouts of downtime while shooting golf scenes filmed at Lake Arrowhead Country Club.

"On movie shoots, you'll be in shot and then they have to turn the camera off, it takes 45 minutes to an hour or more. And we would just go play golf for about an hour," the actor recalled. "And it was Larry Bird, and myself, and Michael. It was fun to play with him, and it was fun to goof around with him, it made it easier to shoot the scenes."

Players in the Jordan Dome pickup games included Reggie Miller, Charles Oakley, Pat Ewing, and Larry Johnson. Recalling the famed pickup games, Tracy Murray described the scene as looking like an "NBA All-Star Game every day."

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"Everybody that had a Warner Bros. show or a movie going on came in to watch the games," Murray, a former NBA forward, told SLAM. "The Wayans brothers were there damn near every day. Queen Latifah came over a lot. The co-stars from the movie were in there. You had comedians, A-list celebrities. People that would show up at the front row of Laker games and stuff like that."

Warner Bros. releases a sequel, the LeBron James-starring Space Jam: A New Legacy, on July 16, 2021.

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