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In 1996, Warner Bros. created a precedent by partnering with a sports hero and adapting the real-life athlete into a world of semi-animated cinema. Space Jam told the fictional account of what happened to Bull’s player Michael Jordan in his brief retirement.

The film was a fresh take on the live-action/animated style of cinema popularized by 1988’s Who Frame Roger Rabbit and capitalized on the huge popularity of Michael Jordan to create a sports crossover for all generations.

Twenty-five years later, Warner Bros. is attempting to do the same by harnessing the star power of LeBron James. Though a veritable quantity in the world of basketball just like Jordan was, the July 16 reboot features a new host of villains alongside classic Looney Tunes characters like Bugs Bunny.

The only notable change this time around comes from the film’s video game counterpart. In 1996, Acclaim Entertainment published the Space Jam video game as part of its suite of NBA Jam offerings. This time around, Microsoft and Xbox are handling the game—and they’re asking for the public’s help to do it.


Space Jam: A New Legacy
The timing for A New Legacy couldn’t be better for LeBron. It comes a year after the passing of Kobe Bryant and LeBron’s push with the Lakers to take home another NBA championship title. The NBA hero even wears the same jersey number as Jordan: 23.

Much like Jordan was at the top of his game in 1996, LeBron is also leading the NBA in terms of stats and championship legacy. Sites that offer NBA picks for the regular season closely track LeBron’s momentum with the Lakers—however, he isn’t the only athlete.

A decade from now, it could be Steph Curry or Giannis Antetokounmpo who lead the NBA’s cinematic endeavors like Space Jam. But both stars have a long way to go if they hope to compete with Jordan’s performance in the 80s and 90s and LeBron’s in the 2000s.

For now, LeBron’s place as the King of Hoops stems from more than just his impressive stats. In the past few years, he’s also become vocal about social justice causes in the NBA and beyond, as well as supporting the development of the WNBA.

But rather than face a court full of Steph Currys and Giannis Antetokounmpos, LeBron and co-star Bronny James will face a rogue algorithm called AI-G.


Microsoft Looking for Video Game Tie-In
Unlike 1996’s handling of the Space Jam video game installment, designed to fit in with the arcade-style NBA Jam series by Acclaim Entertainment, this year’s release was crowd-sourced from Xbox fans.

The window for submitting ideas to the contest website closed on December 30, but the official rules left participants with scant instructions to explain a looney idea in only 500 words or less. With the video game set to be released as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate package, winners will earn more than a free game pass.

To find their next great idea, Microsoft will reward two winners with official credits in the game, LeBron James memorabilia, merchandise from Space Jam: A New Legacy, their own personalized Xbox Series S device, a coding workshop from Microsoft, and a private screening upon the film’s release.


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Building on the Space Jam Narrative
Sounds too good to be true? It seems the contest is only the beginning for Microsoft. As the parent company of the Xbox brand, Microsoft is looking to bundle the upcoming film and video game releases with coding opportunities.

Via virtual workshop, the tech giant will offer arcade game-specific coding opportunities for those interested in learning. LeBron, along with co-stars Don Cheadle and Cedric Joe, signed on to help introduce the lessons and instill a wonder of computer science and coding for those interested in more than just basketball.

The workshop series piloted by Microsoft ties in seamlessly with the plot of Space Jam: A New Legacy, as LeBron plays himself, but Bronny is interested in becoming a video game developer, unlike his father.