On Oscar weekend, Space Jam: A New Legacy is being honored with a surprising distinction that has LeBron James stans flying their flags at half-mast. This isn’t a LeBron hate space, but we’ve got to keep it 100. I used to joke that LeBron would have been the perfect casting choice for Magic Johnson in HBO’s Winning Time, if it had been produced about 10 years earlier. Unfortunately, 2022 has not been a Winning Time for LeBron.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise–especially to the LeBron-hating quarter of the Internet that Space Jam was honored with the Razzie for Worst Actor. James beat out competition such as Mark Wahlberg’s perpetually confused yet annoyed face, Ben Platt type casting himself, and Scott Eastwood, the Bronny James of Clint Eastwoods.
Shaq won the same award for Steel in 1997, a hilarious comic book superhero movie that alludes to the real-life Shaq’s inability to make free throws and even uses that inside joke as a critical component of the climax. Rodman earned Worst Supporting Actor for playing an arms dealer in Double Team.
In LeBron’s defense, speaking lines to cartoon characters is pretty tricky. It also lacked the emotional depth of Space Jam. It’s a little concerning that LeBron won a Razzie for playing himself, and if anything, that role seemed like it would be right down his alley.
Jordan bought in Barkley, Bradley, Larry Johnson, Ewing, and Muggsy. Where was Jesus Shuttlesworth to spit a few lines and show LeBron the ropes? LeBron not throwing a bag at CP3 to co-star in the sequel is worse than him not doing everything possible to get CP3 in a Lakers uniform two summers ago.
The Phoenix Suns point guard is a natural thespian and it demands our attention. Watch his flops, his immaculate performances as Jake Paul or Meet the Hoopers, and tell me otherwise. CP3 could have picked up James with his comedic chops the same way he pulled DeAndre Ayton and Devin Booker up from the depths of the Western Conference?
A New Legacy also lacked the emotional depth of Jordan’s Space Jam. I know this sounds silly about a film featuring NBA GOATs hooping with Warner Bros. cartoons, but hear me out. If Space Jam was about Jordan returning to basketball after connecting with his father’s legacy through baseball, Space Jam 2 was about LeBron’s fears his sons are terrible at basketball. It doesn’t resonate the same to anyone who isn’t Bronny or Bryce. Of course, that entire storyline about live stream viewers getting trapped in a fugazi world of our phone screens was some accidentally deep, subtle social commentary. But we’re getting off-topic.
LeBron James is at best when he’s not trying to be Michael Jordan. Being Like Mike was Bow Wow and Kobe’s lane. Ironically, The Worst Actor Razzie comes amid James pursuing his first scoring crown since 2008. Unfortunately, he’ll earn it during his worst season record-wise, since his rookie campaign with the Cavs. At 31-42, he’s on pace to win fewer games than he’s won during any season in his entire career.
James’ slim lead over Joel Embiid for the scoring race is the only light this miserable season. Anthony Davis, his Space Jam co-star, has been on the mend for half the season and never got an opportunity to develop a rhythm with Westbrook. The presumption is that Frank Vogel will be interred in the LeBron James Coaching Cemetery and Russell Westbrook is approaching the downward slope of his career.
These are dark times in Hollywood for LeBron. But I’m sure any acting coach worth his salt would tell LeBron should use this pain to channel the pain of this season the next time he decides to step on a set and in front of a camera.