During the original intergalactic hoops battle in “Space Jam,” which was released in 1996, Michael Jordan’s dreaded opponents were a collective of menaces who went by the name “Monstars.” The roster was filled by mutant aliens who stole talent from the era’s superstars — Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Muggsy Bogues and Larry Johnson.
But in LeBron James’ fight to escape the Serververse in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” he’s forced to take on a new team of villains known as the Goon Squad, also based on top NBA and WNBA talent.
This time, the animation is slicker, showcasing moves that seem more multifaceted and fearsome. Meet the members of the Goon Squad and their real-life counterparts.
Klay Thompson as Wet-Fire
The 31-year-old Golden State Warrior is known for his textbook shooting form. Thompson, who was drafted in 2011, has won three NBA championships with his squad and is a five-time NBA All-Star. After tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2019 and then his Achilles tendon in November 2020, he has been sidelined for the last two seasons. But fans are rooting for a fall return. In the meantime, he’s flexing his funny bone.
On the red carpet for the movie, when asked which Looney Tune he would like on his team, Thompson came out in favor of a character banned for some unsavory pre-#MeToo behavior. “Probably Pepé Le Pew because no one wants to go near that man, so if I’m by him, I’m going to get an open shot. That’s how bad he smells. I remember that from the first one, too.”
His Goon, Wet-Fire, can switch between being covered in water or flames to mess with his opponents.
Diana Taurasi as White Mamba
The UConn great and guard for the Phoenix Mercury has three WNBA Championships, one MVP award and ice water running through her veins. Her ability to score in pressure situations has earned her comparisons to the late Kobe Bryant, and the nickname White Mamba. Competition runs in her family. Taurasi’s father, who was born in Italy but raised in Argentina, played pro soccer in Italy. She is married to Penny Taylor, an assistant coach for the Mercury until July 2020, when she stepped down to be a full-time mother to their son Leo Michael Taurasi-Taylor.
In “A New Legacy,” Taurasi gets combined with a snake, so not only can she shoot hoops — she can swipe the other team with her tail.
Nneka Ogwumike as Arachnneka
The 31-year-old Nigerian-American superstar is also part of a sister act. Her younger sibling Chiney played with her at Stanford and is her current teammate with the LA Sparks. Ogwumike, who was raised in Texas, won a WNBA championship in 2016, was League MVP, Rookie of the Year and a six-time All-Star selection.
Can she replicate such court success as a part of the Goon Squad? It definitely helps that her spider character Arachnneka has eight legs to dribble with.
Damian Lillard as Chronos
The Portland Trail Blazer’s guard is known around the league as a good guy and selfless teammate. Last month, he was even given the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award, which is a leaguewide distinction.
In other words, he is really flipping the script on his on-court persona by playing for the bad guys. Nicknamed “Dame Time,” the 31-year-old Oakland, California native is a six-time NBA All-Star and was the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2013.
Inspired by Lillard’s speediness, Chronos is superfast and made of metal.
Anthony Davis as the Brow
Known for embracing his bold, trademark unibrow, Davis has to play against current Los Angeles Lakers teammate LeBron James in the summer blockbuster. The pair have history. They won an NBA Championship together in the 2020 NBA bubble. But that title was just another distinction for the eight-time NBA All-star. The power forward who attended Kentucky also won an NCAA championship in 2012 and a gold medal at the London Olympics.
In the original “Space Jam,” Seal sang “Fly Like an Eagle.” In the new movie, thanks to his character’s wings, Davis actually can.
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