If you’re not listening to the Space Jam Theme Song while reading this post (or every morning to get you ready for the day in a way only R. Kelly could), you’re not doing it right. You’re probably not living life correctly either, and probably a miserable person who lives on Moron Mountain or something. Idiot.
18 years ago, the greatest sports movie of all time was released. For most of us, life was simpler then. There was only one wild card in baseball. Girls didn’t exist, or at least, you had a hard time proving it. R. Kelly was a national hero, not a golden shower waiting to happen/criminal. The world really could be saved by a batshit crazy basketball game devoid of rules and mathematics. Or at least we could be saved from Michael Jordan’s baseball career.
Some things never change however: Bill Murray was still a demigod, a living legend/Bachelor Party pixie, and Wayne Knight was in the midst of one of the greatest streaks an actor has ever had the fortune of going on. Behold: his run began in 1987 on a little movie called Dirty Dancing, he was an extra in Born on the Fourth of July, then roles came in Dead Again, JFK, Jurassic Park, something called Seinfeld, and he started up on a show called 3rd Rock From The Sun. Space Jam came right before roles in Hercules and The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars that would foreshadow a phenomenal voice acting career. In many ways, Space Jam was a transitory period for Knight, when most of his meaningful work segued into animation; it’s almost as if the Monstars settled on stealing Stan Podolak following their defeat (a possible entryway to the inevitable Space Jam 2). There’s no other medium that can capture his incomparable voice and spirit. Of course, I’m not entirely convinced his streak ever ended (Hot in Cleveland, people! He stars in Hot in Cleveland!). Wayne Knight lives a charmed life, even without ever starring on Charmed (the show would still be running if he had).
Space Jam, a shoulda been crappy corporate cash grab, hailing Michael Jordan’s return to basketball in what could’ve become a full-length movie version of LeBron James’ Decision that somehow came out charming and beautiful. Space Jam, a movie that stars the best basketball player of all-time (non-Bill Murray division), Bill Murray, Danny DeVito, Newman, and Elmer Fudd, is evidence that there is magic in the universe, that there are forces greater than us working behind the scenes (and they might be WB Animators). Space Jam is one of the most important films of all time, a generational touchstone, a demarcation of time as effective as Jesus’ death (yet just as timeless: Funny Or Die’s Live Read is one of the best things to ever happen). You need more proof? It inspired a 30 for 30. And the hottest cartoon animal/chick of all-time:
This is likely the hardest task I’ll ever try to accomplish in this or any lifetime: the Space Jam Drinking Game (incomplete without massive quantities of beer and/or Michael’s Secret Stuff, which is thankfully glorified water and not Air Jordan Jizz). If I do my job right, when the credits roll, you’ll be crying and…Believe I/you can fly.
1. Waterfall for the aforementioned Space Jam Theme Song. Be sure to drink liberally during every R. Kelly song, to maximize pee breaks, a sentence I probably should’ve worked harder to avoid.
2. Drink for every cartoon catchphrase. You know “sufferin’ succotash,” Porky Pig’s strokes, “I tawt I taw a puddy tat,” and all that.
3. Whenever we glimpse a cartoon in the real world, drink away your sorrow that that can’t really happen (yet).
4. Sip for our basketball bros (Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues) when their powers are drained (or whatever it is Shawn Bradley has). It can be argued that Charles Barkley’s sad sack performance is what cemented his future career in TV. Furthermore, celebrate when they get their powers back with another sip!
If you’re a Monstar fan/evil, drink whenever the Monstars are created, and shrunk back again.
5. Drink for every foul or technical foul. You have to keep hydrated during a sporting event. CHALLENGE: Drink for every no call.
6. Waterfall during Jordan’s climactic/impossible/mind-bending dunk (that isn’t really a dunk, he drops it in, but quibbles are for lesser men than I) when he makes like Mr. Fantastic.
7. You have to drink whenever there’s evidence of Michael Jordan being truly and completely awful at baseball. The guy’s told what pitches are coming, and it doesn’t matter. It’s the not-quite so hidden joke at the crux of the whole movie, the swivel, the gateway into the heroes journey. The message is this: quit trying new things when you’re already good at one, unless you’re Bo Jackson.
8. Every time the Tune Squad don’t know the rules to basketball, drink. Double it whenever this rule, or any rule that applies to the scintillating 3’2” power forward, Daffy Duck.
9. Drink for every celebrity cameo. Patricia Heaton was apparently cool enough to be in this movie, BEFORE The Middle. Imagine how cool she is now.
10. Drink for any truly cartoony things happen, like say when Wayne Knight is absolutely flattened, then blown up and then passes gas for about a minute. That seems suitably cartoony and worthy of alcohol consumption.
EXPERT EDITION: Toast your fellow Man and drink for every one of Bill Murray’s perfectly coiffed bon mots. In the film, he even invents a race: clear. We always suspected Larry Bird wasn’t white; that wasn’t possible. Bill Murray knew the truth.