Who the Space Jam Aliens Would Steal Talents from in 2013
There can't be more than four or five people in the world who haven't seen Space Jam at this point, but if you're one of them, just give the movie's Wikipedia page a quick glance. Got it? Awesome.
Basically, the question is this: If Space Jam was remade, which NBA players would the aliens (the “Monstars”) choose to steal talent from? The idea here is to stick to the spirit of the movie and choose the players who most resemble those featured in the original Space Jam, rather than just picking the best player at each position.
So with that being said, let's take a look at which current players would be at risk of ending up like this.
Muggsy Bogues—Nate Robinson
This is a pretty tough one. Muggsy Bogues doesn't have a modern NBA counterpart—or even a historical counterpart, really. As you might imagine, the NBA isn't exactly flush with 5'3” point guards who can play at a very high level, and that means we have to reach a bit with the Nate Robinson selection.
Like Bogues, Robinson is a diminutive guard (he's 5'9”) who plays much bigger than he actually is. The two differ quite a bit in play style—Bogues was a pass-first guard whereas Robinson is obviously much more of a scorer—but both are lightning-quick and can get into the lane like it's nothing.
Again, this is probably a bit of a stretch, but...watch a few Bogues highlights and try to come up with a current comparison. He was one of a kind.
Runner-up: Isaiah Thomas
Charles Barkley—Kevin Love
Charles Barkley was a unique player, but surprisingly, Kevin Love comes pretty close to replicating his basic game.
Love is maybe the premier rebounder in the league right now and similar to Barkley—that's because he's absolutely tireless when it comes to crashing the glass. Love is relentless when it comes to boards and just seems to have a nose for the ball.
To be fair, Love isn't nearly the transition titan Barkley was back in the day (no one stood in front of him on a fastbreak), but he has taken up an inside-outside offensive game similar to Barkley's. In fact, in some ways he's improved upon it.
Barkley loved taking outside shots (he averaged well over two threes per game in his prime) but hit just 27 percent for his career. On the other hand, Love is shooting 35 percent from three for his career and has become perhaps the best stretch 4 in the game.
The one thing Love is missing is a crazy nickname—it's hard to beat something like “The Round Mound of Rebound.” Oh well. Someday, maybe.
Runner-up: Zach Randolph
Larry Johnson—Blake Griffin
In 1996, the year Space Jam was released, Larry Johnson was a young, high-flying forward with a penchant for gravity-defying dunks. Now who does that sound like to you?
Actually, Johnson himself has admitted that he sees a bit of himself in Blake Griffin. Before the 2011 NBA draft, Johnson spoke to Bleacher Report's Dan Favale about Griffin, saying, "His explosiveness reminds me of how I played before my back injury."
The back injury that Johnson mentioned ultimately sapped his athleticism and led to a quick retirement—he left the game at a relatively young 31 years old.
However, during his early years, Johnson was strikingly similar to Griffin. He was too quick and too strong to be guarded on the low block, a surprisingly sophisticated passer and utterly untouchable in the open court.
The Monstars would do well to have Griffin on the squad, that's for sure.
Runner-up: Josh Smith
Patrick Ewing—Dwight Howard
Believe it or not, this was actually by far the toughest one to pick. There just aren't any high-scoring, jump-shooting centers in the league anymore. This more or less came down to choosing the best two-way big in the NBA, and that's still Dwight Howard.
The most obvious similarity between Howard and Ewing is athleticism. Ewing was big and chiseled—a freak athlete—and Howard is built no differently. Defense is another big one. Howard and Ewing are huge space-eaters, and it's hard to watch the former spike a shot without picturing the latter doing the same.
What's a bit strange is how different the two are offensively, especially since Ewing was Howard's mentor when he was with the Orlando Magic. Ewing had beautiful touch on his jumper (and showed it with shots like this), and though he certainly could play inside, he spent a good chunk of time floating around the middle of the floor.
Howard's no less effective offensively, but he rarely ventures outside of the paint and certainly doesn't have a consistent jumper in his arsenal.
Not a perfect match, but close enough—considering how much the center position has changed since Ewing was an active player.
Runner-up: Marc Gasol
Shawn Bradley—JaVale McGee
Shawn Bradley was a lanky, stick-thin 7'6” shot-blocker, and the man who fits that bill (minus a few inches) in today's NBA is JaVale McGee.
In no way was Bradley the athlete McGee is (McGee is capable of some stunning things), but his excellent timing and freakishly long arms led to some crazy shot-blocking numbers. Bradley averaged over four blocks per 36 minutes seven times in his career and ranks 14th on the all-time blocks list (per Basketball-Reference).
To be fair to McGee, he's already a better offensive player than Bradley ever was—and most importantly, he's better known for dunking than being on the receiving end of a dunk. Bradley was victimized by the league's best dunkers quite a bit. So much so, in fact, that there are YouTube clips floating around with names like “Dunk On Me, I'm Shawn Bradley.”
Pretty sure there will never be anything like that involving McGee, though it'd probably already be possible to throw together a highlight reel of all his goaltends.
Runner-up: Larry Sanders
There you have it. A rough estimate of what the new Monstars squad would look like if Space Jam was for some reason ever remade.
Here's one last thing: Could the original Monstars team have been more poorly constructed? They had one guard, two forwards and two centers. It's like the team was put together by bizarro David Kahn—one really into bigs instead of point guards.
The top-two options to defend Michael Jordan on that team were Muggsy Bogues (again, he was 5'3”) and Larry Johnson (who had literally no chance of staying in front of MJ). Of course Jordan's team was going to win. How could it not?
Admittedly, this a weird thing to nitpick in a movie based on Jordan playing basketball with the Looney Tunes, but still. The world needs answers.