Nearly a year ago someone figured out an important piece of basketball history that far too many of us have long since ignored. Thanks to the magic of the Internet — namely Reddit — that historical date is getting a bit more attention.
Social media was buzzing on Monday about something ESPN’s SportsCenter account posted to Facebook last November that incorrectly gave the wrong date of the infamous Monstars/Tune Squad game from the 1996 feature film Space Jam.
The film, which of course is a groundbreaking documentary about Michael Jordan’s retirement from basketball and his subsequent kidnapping by Looney Toons animations, featured a 1-point win by Jordan, Bugs Bunny and company over a group of aliens who stole their basketball abilities from many of the game’s greats in the 1990s. SportsCenter‘s Facebook account posted about the dramatic victory on the date it thought was the two-decade anniversary of the remarkable event.
“On this date 20 years ago, the Monsters blew a 66-18 halftime lead to Michael Jordan and the Tune Squad,” the photo read with an image from the movie in the background.
The SportsCenter post is entire tongue-in-cheek, referencing the movie’s original release date of Nov. 15, 1996. Many played along with the joke, arguing about the Warriors and Bulls and making jokes about Daffy Duck’s lack of productivity out of the four.
But one Facebook commenter, hidden among the thousands of responses, corrected the post with the actual date. Reddit has the whole post, which is quite long, but does offer a compelling answer.
“This isn’t even close to accurate,” the comment began. “The “Ultimate Game” actually took place on March 5, 1995. We know this from a couple of different clues throughout the movie.”
The commenter narrowed it down by figuring out the date of Jordan’s game against the Huntsville Stars when he was playing for the Birmingham Barons, which is shown in the movie.
He then points out that the Monsters take Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing’s abilities in the same game, and the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns only play twice at Madison Square Gardens while Jordan wasn’t in the NBA.
There are some problems with the timeline, of course. At one point in the movie, Jordan mentions he has a game the next day. At another point, his handler Stan mentions it’s a practice. The commenter tries to explain this discrepancy away with the MLB lockout, which turned many spring training games into practices because of a lack of players to field teams.
“So we now know we are in the spring of 1995,” the comment continued. “Which makes sense, because the MLB players strike is what eventually led Jordan to quit baseball on March 10, 1995, without playing a single Spring Training game, even though he reported on February 17, 1995.”
With the calendar sufficiently narrowed, the commenter turned back to the NBA schedule, arguing that the game must have happened between those two dates. And since Jordan gives the basketball abilities back to Muggsy Bogues, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley and Larry Johnson at the end of the film, they must have all had the same day off in order to be in the same place at the same time.
Those dates, according to our most important Space Jam scholar, were either Feb. 25 or March 6. The commenter argues in favor of March 6 because there would have been a game-turned practice for the White Sox that day, which is referenced in the movie as the reason Jordan had to play in the game to escape Looney Toons Land
And since the NBA stars immediately challenge Jordan to a game of 3-on-3 after they get their powers back, the commenter argues that Jordan knew right then and there that he would be coming back to basketball. So March 6, 1995 it is.
“I’m going to regret this,” Jordan says before he hands them the magical basketball.
“Why would he stick it out in baseball another five weeks?” the commenter argues in confusion.
It’s pretty compelling and, since Space Jam is absolutely a documentary, it must be correct.