Is there a 'Space Jam: A New Legacy' curse?

·3-min read

"Space Jam: A New Legacy" finally released this weekend, to strong box office numbers and and less strong critical numbers.

As millions flock to theaters and HBO Max to see a sequel 25 years in the making, one of the main selling points of the movie is the new generation of basketball stars joining LeBron James on the court.

The five NBA and WNBA stars whose talents power the villainous Goon Squad have combined for eight championship rings, 35 All-Star selections, two MVP awards and three Rookie of the Year awards. It's an impressive group, and yet, their recent exploits have been curiously rough.

Rough enough to fuel some wonders about a curse, perhaps?

Look, we're not saying that each player who faced James has experienced a "Madden NFL" or "Homer at the Bat"-esque calamity, but let's just look at the facts.

Anthony Davis ('The Brow')

The Los Angeles Lakers star dealt with injuries throughout the NBA regular season, missing 30 games due to a right calf strain. He returned in time for the playoffs and helped power the Lakers to a 2-1 lead over the Phoenix Suns, then strained his groin in Game 4. He tried to return in Game 6, but exited for good after five minutes.

The Lakers would eventually lose the series in six games, dropping three straight after Davis' groin injury. If you want to count that early exit as evidence that James, who missed part of the regular season with a sprained ankle, is also part of the curse, go ahead.

Damian Lillard ('Chronos')

Lillard saw his Portland Trail Blazers lose in the first round for the second straight season, a result discouraging enough that the team parted ways with head coach Terry Stotts, the only head coach Lillard had played for in his NBA career.

The Blazers then hired Chauncey Billups to replace Stotts, a move that triggered outrage as a sexual assault allegation resurfaced against the former point guard. Things got even worse when the Blazers bungled the news conference while Lillard distanced himself from the hire.

Lillard is now pushing back on rumors of a trade request, and his future is as cloudy as it's ever been.

Klay Thompson ('Wet-Fire')

Woof, where to start?

The last time we saw Klay Thompson on the court, he was leaving Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals with what turned out to be a torn ACL (he was announced as part of the "Space Jam" cast less than a week later). Thompson has not played an NBA minute since then, spending the entire 2019-20 season in recovery, then missing the entire 2020-21 season with a torn Achilles.

Nneka Ogwumike ('Arachnneka')

The Los Angeles Sparks star has been out since June 1 with a knee injury, but still made headlines with what Just Women's Sports called the biggest snub in the modern history of USA Basketball.

Still the only WNBA MVP to have never appeared in Olympics (she was left off the 2012 and 2016 rosters too), Ogwumike tried to play for her native Nigeria, where she holds dual citizenship, but that was struck down by FIBA.

Diana Taurasi ('White Mamba')

The 39-year-old Taurasi, the WNBA's all-time leading scorer, has played only seven games this season. First, she missed a month with a fractured sternum, and now she's out since the start of the month with a hip injury.

Unlike Ogwumike, though, she was still added to the Team USA roster. We'll see if she's ready in time for Tokyo, because her team sure looks like it needs her.

So there you have it. Five players, with four whose last game before the release of "Space Jam" ended with a significant injury and none of whom came close to a championship this NBA season or last WNBA season.

Maybe those are just the breaks of the game, but it's something you can't help but notice while perusing the movie's IMDB page.

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