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LeBron James passed on a ‘Space Jam’ sequel 15 years ago because he wasn’t sure he could top the original

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Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The year is 2006: George W. Bush is President of the United States, “Pirates of the Carribean” is all of the craze and a 21-year-old LeBron James is emerging as one of the most dominant forces in the NBA — so dominant that Warner Bros. was prepared to make him the star of the “Space Jam” sequel, James revealed in a recent interview with Derek Lawrence of Entertainment Weekly. So why did it takes 15 years for James to finally commit?

According to James, it was a matter of timing:

Growing up in the Midwest in the ‘90s, it was impossible for James to not aspire to be the next MJ, which made Jordan’s team-up with the Tunes “a big part of my childhood,” he says. He was intrigued when first approached to star in a new Space Jam 15 years ago, but like the great assist man he is, he passed. “I didn’t think I was ready to do anything of that magnitude,” James admits. “I wanted to continue to focus on my game and give it as much as I could.”

While this might be easier to say with the help of hindsight, James made the right call. When “Space Jam” was released in 1996, Jordan was already a four-time NBA champion, a four-time Finals MVP, a five-time league MVP and two-time Olympic gold-medalist. In 2006, James only had one postseason appearance to his name.

Now in 2021, James, at the age of 36, has a resume that rivals Jordan’s, and, like Jordan, James is in the later stages of his playing career, although you really can’t tell by his play. James also has the added benefit of having starred in a few feature-length films, including “Trainwreck” and “Smallfoot.” Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about that in the G.O.A.T. debate?

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