“Space Jam”: The Worst Officiated Game in the History of Sports

Michael Jordan plays with animated friends who aren't Dennis Rodman and violates a whole slew of rules in the process.

Rob Feeby Rob Fee

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny
I was 15 years old when Space Jam came out. Clearly that is way too old to watch a movie about a cartoon bunny playing basketball, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. You’d have a hard time finding any male under the age of 35 who hasn’t seen it or who wouldn’t happily watch it right now. It combines two of the greatest things you could ever want in a movie: Michael Jordan and the music of R. Kelly.

But beyond all of the hype, there are some major flaws with the film.

Let’s look beyond the fact that the movie starts out with Jordan shooting hoops with his dad and revealing his true identity as a warlock. He explains in detail how he is going to go to college at North Carolina, win a championship, go to the NBA, then attempt professional baseball. OK, Long Island Medium, nice prediction.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

I’ll look past the opening credits that feel like 6 hours of MJ footage. We get it. If we’re watching Space Jam, we’re already familiar with his work. I’ll even look past the fact that they tried to convince us that Jordan would ever in a million years hang out with Newman from “Seinfeld.” That may be the most unrealistic part of the entire film.

What I can’t forgive is the lack of proper officiating in the game between the Tune Squad and the Monstars. Yes, I realize it’s a child’s movie and is not based on reality, but what if there’s a child out there dreaming of playing in the NBA one day, only to have his dreams crushed when he realizes he can’t use a phaser gun on an opponent? If it helps just one young athlete then I’ve done my job.

Let’s get into the game.

First off, it was a great choice by the two aliens who stole Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing’s skills. The alien who stole Larry Johnson’s skills, however, could have done better, but it’s not bad. As far as the decision of the two aliens to go with Shawn Bradley and Muggsy Bogues, they would have been better off just staying tiny and terrible.

Before the game even begins, we already have some violations. In professional basketball, all jerseys must be tucked in and matching. Taz, what in God’s name is wrong with you? You’ve been here 30 seconds and your jersey already looks like someone The Governor has imprisoned on “The Walking Dead.” Get yourself together.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

And Tweety…Tweety isn’t even wearing pants. That’s beyond a rule violation. It’s indecent exposure in most states.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Then there’s Lola, who apparently thought she was working a shift at Hooters. This is a family establishment ma’am, so why don’t you find the other half of your top that you carelessly cut off, sew it back on, and stop setting women’s rights back 100 years, you hussy.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Now the game begins, and boy does it begin with a boom. As soon as Jordan wins the opening tip, Bugs beings dribbling down court. He gets maybe 5 steps down when this happens:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

He gets backhanded in the face and is sent flying through the air and yet no foul is called! I understand missing a hand check foul or a simple reach in but look at him:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Get your head in the game, ref! The safety of the players needs to be your top priority.

On the very next play, Jordan brings the ball down court and is immediately quadruple teamed. He passes to Daffy who, instead of passing it to one of his 3 other wide-open teammates, tosses it out of bounds into the hands of Granny. First of all, I’m not sure how she even made the roster with her aging body and probable osteoporosis. The entire Monstar team dives onto the bench tackling both the poor, old Granny as well as Newman!

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

What is this, Ron Artest in Detroit? That’s your ballgame right there, folks. You can’t attack players on the bench. These hooligans have no respect for the game and Marvin the Martian is clearly unqualified to be an official.

After a few clean plays, minus several uncalled technical fouls for hanging on the rim, Foghorn Leghorn gets a little playing time and is bringing the ball down the court when a defender bumps him causing the ball to fall to the ground. Now there wasn’t any serious contact, so a foul isn’t that necessary. However, what happened next was definitely an oversight:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

He set Foghorn Leghorn on fire! This isn’t just a foul or call for ejection, this is attempted murder. Do you remember that game where Ray Allen was guarding Tim Hardaway and Allen got that big steal by burning Hardaway alive? Of course you don’t because he would be in jail!

This one should go without saying, but I’m pretty certain pulling a gun on your opponent is at least a flagrant foul, right? At least Gilbert Arenas kept his in the locker room.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

On that same play, Jordan goes for a steal and ends up being grabbed and wrapped up like a Del Taco Combo Burrito, only $2.99 for a limited time! Where are the refs? Are you even trying? Tim Donaghy did a better job than this.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

We reach halftime with the Monstars up big. They’re hootin’ and hollerin’, but why shouldn’t they? They’re getting away with ridiculous plays. After a motivational speech from MJ, Bugs breaks out his secret weapon. He fills a bottle with what appears to be tap water and labels it “Michael’s Secret Stuff.”

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

After one gulp, he looks like this:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

There’s one of two options here. Either Bugs is a complete idiot and could be extremely muscular whenever he wants, but instead chooses to look like a wet sock, or he just took an illegal performance enhancing drug! The Tunes get stoked as they chug down their drugs and storm back onto the court with one of the most blatantly illegal plays yet.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

That’s right, Bugs Bunny is riding a motor scooter. If that’s the kind of game we’re playing then why not just drive your Ford Fiesta onto the court and plow over everyone like Donte Stallworth? Can we at least keep a hint of actual organized sports? Also, he doesn’t even dribble while riding the scooter. At least Air Bud passed the ball to avoid his lack of dribbling ability.

On the very next play one of the Monstars goes in for what appears to be an uncontested dunk only to find this:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

The rim and backboard have been rigged with explosives! Is Dennis Hopper’s character from “Speed” officiating this game? This has gone from a friendly competition to a threat level orange terrorist attack. When did they have time to set up what’s basically a drone strike of explosives without being noticed? The rules have completely gone out the window. I’m now fearful for the lives of the players involved.

Immediately after being blown up his teeth start exploding out of his mouth like a deleted scene from “Saw.”

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

“What happened?”, you ask. Oh, just two of his opponents decided to change into suits, walk onto the court, pull out their handguns, and start firing into his mouth.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Why isn’t the crowd fleeing for their lives? People are being shot, beaten, blown up, and dismembered. It’s like every Final Destination death put on a jersey and stumbled onto this horrible court.

We get a few questionable plays after that, but they pale in comparison to what happened next. Jordan throws down some impressive dunks and, after hitting a jumper, pulls the Tunes within six points. That’s when another crime is committed…

Daffy grabs a can of paint from lord only knows where and brushes a glob of red across his opponent’s rear. At first I thought he was going to make some kind of horrible joke about the Monstar starting his period, but instead he uses the paint to lure a bull out of the crowd and attack a player.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Now you’ve crossed the line. Where is the security? You can’t have fans running onto the court and assaulting players. If that’s legal then why not have the entire crowd just run out and start beating everyone? This is bedlam. The structures of society are crumbling all around us.

Somehow Tweety Bird is still in the game despite any ability to even hold the basketball. The Monstars approach him and in some sort of roid rage he begins attacking them with a series of punches, bites, and dropkicks. Is this still even a game or footage of Street Fighter 2?

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Elmer Fudd scores, cutting the Monstars lead to two. Danny Devito, who is apparently the coach despite sitting in a skybox and smoking cigars, calls a timeout. The pathetic excuse for a referee approaches him and he assaults the ref!

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

To be honest after all the things he’s allowed to happen on the court already, I’m not too upset with this. Get your act together Marvin. You’re a disgrace.

The game starts back up and immediately this happens:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

We’re not shown how but Wile E Coyote gets dismembered like William Wallace at the end of “Braveheart.” This is just sick. Fans in the crowd are probably vomiting and weeping.

After that, The Monstars just snap. There’s so much violence I can’t even show you all the pictures, but this one sums it up:

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

It’s a full blown riot. Someone needs to call the authorities. Children and the elderly are probably being escorted out of the building.

Now, here’s the most ridiculous play of the entire game. You ready for this? We finally get the first whistle of the game! That’s right, after players have been shot, strangled, and blown up the ref decides that a Monstar diving on top of Bugs Bunny was too much and the play comes to a halt.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

People are gasping and the crowd is silent. Are you kidding me? I just saw a player literally ripped to pieces and you’re shocked over this? Lola comes over and rubs her rabbit titties in his face for a few minutes but he, along with the rest of his team, is now suffering from serious injuries. Someone is even in an iron lung, which I didn’t realize every team has in the locker room.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Newman gets his first opportunity for some playing time. Jordan passes him the ball and immediately all five of the Monstars dive on top of him. Somehow, defying gravity and logic, the ball flys out from half court and goes through the basket. Is this an “and one” situation? Of course not because Marvin the Martian can’t get his head out of his ass long enough to actually call a foul.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Sorry Newman, but you did release all the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park”, so you kind of had this coming.

After scraping him off the court, Marvin decides for the first time in the whole game to enforce a rule. He informs Jordan that if the Tune Squad doesn’t have another player, then they’ll be forced to forfeit. Again, attempted murder is OK, but if you don’t have the proper amount of players then it’s over.

Enter Bill Murray.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Is he on the roster? No. Basically, the former Ghostbuster just found a jersey, wandered onto the court, and was allowed to play. Does anyone care about the heritage and respect of the game? NBA Jam had more rules than this.

Jordan draws up a defensive play and literally says “Someone steal the ball then give it to me.” Great plan! That’s like a coach saying “OK here’s what I drew up: win the contest.”

The Monstars inbound the ball and Daffy, who has put on a football helmet, spears him like Goldberg in 1998 and causes the ball to come free. Is there a foul called? What do you think? You realize there hasn’t been a single free throw in this entire game? Can you imagine how much Lebron and Dwayne Wade would be crying over missed foul calls?

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Now at this point the clock has started and there are ten seconds left in the game. The movie’s runtime is at 1:06:49. When the final buzzer sounds, the runtime is at 1:07:58! Who is operating the clocks here? It took a minute and nine seconds for ten seconds to run off the clock!

During that eternal ten seconds, we were treated to Bill Murray tripping a Monstar and Daffy getting punched in the face, but then the most bizarre thing happens. It’s not a missed foul or an illegal play, but Michael Jordan becomes some sot of rubber Fantastic Four mutant and elongates his arm to a disgusting length in order to dunk the ball as time expires.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny

Was Jordan always able to do this? Is his arm broken and somehow horribly disfigured? Is this also an explanatiowhat happened to Scottie Pippen’s face? Unfortunately we will never know the answers to these questions, but thankfully this nightmare is over with the Tune Squad defeating the Monstars 78-77 in a disgraceful game from both teams that neither should be proud about. Let’s just hope future generations don’t learn from this game and focus more on rebounding than winning games with attempted vehicular manslaughter.

space jam, michael jordan, looney tunes, bugs bunny