Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): When the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the 2021 NBA Playoffs, marking the first-ever first-round exit of LeBron James' career, it begged the question from a reporter if the all-time great would suit up for Team USA at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
In the moment, James' response could not have been better.
"Nah, I think I'm gonna play for the Tune Squad this summer instead of the Olympics.
"I think that's what my focus is on, is trying to beat the Monstars, or the Goon Squad, we call them now," James said. "I didn't have much success against the Suns, so I am gearing my attention to the Goon Squad here in July."
He was, of course, referring to the highly anticipated release of "Space Jam: A New Legacy," where James will star alongside other NBA and WNBA players and your favourite Looney Tunes cartoon characters in a movie that is set to hit theaters and HBO Max on July 16, 2021.
But before we dive into the release of the uniforms, merchandise, exclusive shoes and more, I need a temperature check on your excitement level.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Man, you know me. I've admittedly been a LeBron fan since like … NBA Live 07, so to see him really venture into this acting thing is pretty entertaining. Not sure if I'm in the minority here, but I think he was actually pretty good in "Trainwreck."
That being said, the nostalgia of the OG Space Jam is something that will never be matched, so I'm approaching this one as a completely new film, and plan on judging it accordingly.
It's been, what, 25 years since the first one? The trailer was dope, but also left me wondering even more of what I should expect when the movie drops. You gonna be checking this out on release date?
Irving: You know me. I'm admittedly terrible at watching new movies or shows in a timely manner. In fact, I still haven't seen "Uncle Drew," even though it's on my watchlist as an NBA fan.
But when it comes to Space Jam, I'll be tuning into this one immediately. I loved the first one as a kid, and I have just as high of expectations for this one with how far animation has come in today's day and age.
Plus, with a star-studded cast of professional players like Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Nneka Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi and Klay Thompson suiting up for the Goon Squad, going up against LeBron and the Toon Squad, I can't wait.
I have to ask, though. When you saw the players casted, were there any left off that had you wishing they made the cut?
McGregor: I'm holding you to that, and we can double back for our movie review on opening weekend haha.
Honestly, I like the approach they took with the players casted. The only archetype I think they're missing is a big-time dunker, but at the same time, who might that be? Dame, AD, Klay, Taurasi and Ogwumike are each big names, but is there a dunker that comes to mind right away?
Zion? I think of him as a player and not a dunker. But I guess that would parallel to Larry Johnson in the first one. Since I'm drawing blanks there, the only other thing that would have been hilarious is a Goon Squad version of Kawhi Leonard.
Would immediately shoot up the list as best basketball movie ever.
Irving: Kawhi was definitely a name I had in mind, although that would've been a long shot. I think Giannis Antetokounmpo would've been good for this movie, too. Blake Griffin seems like a hilarious dude, but they got Klay in there, so I'm satisfied.
McGregor: Yeah, Blake's a good shout. I thought Giannis but wondered if it was too much overlap with AD.
Overall, I don't think they could have done much better with who they picked.
Irving: So we've known the cast and we had even gotten a sneak preview at the new Toon Squad jerseys, but just recently, we saw the roll out of the brand new LeBron 19s, which are set to make their debut on screen when the movie drops.
An official look at the Nike LeBron 19 which is set to be debuted by @KingJames in Space Jam: A New Legacy 🏀 pic.twitter.com/xKMjIZafx3- Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) June 8, 2021
I'm not sure if you've seen the collaboration between Space Jam, Nike and Converse with all of the new merch, but it's quite the extensive list.
Among various pairs of Space Jam Air Maxes, a new pair of Space Jam Air Force 1s and plenty of other t-shirts, hoodies, shorts and more, we also saw the debut of the Goon Squad jerseys.
That's a lot to unpack, but let's start with the new LeBron 19s. What were your initial thoughts when you first saw the latest from LeBron's signature sneaker line?
McGregor: OK, so at first glance, I'll admit: I wasn't a fan.
I even gave the generic, slightly-negative-play-it-safe response of "those are … something," but then you mentioned that they look like LeBron 8s mixed with LeBron 9s, and I'm glad I didn't crush them from the beginning because that caused me to look at them in a slightly different light.
I had multiple pairs of LeBron 9s, which allows me to appreciate them from that lens. I also thought it was a pretty cool Easter egg to note that he wrote the names of his kids and wife in the movie on the midsole the same way he does with the names of his real-life family.
Do the 8/9 comparisons mean you're a big fan?
Irving: Yeah, I honestly really like them. I've mentioned it in our Cloth Talks before, but the LeBron 8s were one of my favourite shoes I've ever played in. And these are almost like if you mashed the 8s and 9s together and tossed the All-Star Galaxy colourway on them.
They'll go nicely with the new Tune Squad uniforms, which are still trying to grow on me. It's not that I don't like them, it's just that the originals were so classic. But obviously they had to make a new jersey for the new film, and like you said, you really have to try and view this movie from a completely different lens as a whole.
McGregor: Yeah, they're not bad, they're just way more than the first iteration. Which helps with the differentiation.
I feel like one of my big tests for uniforms is whether or not I'd wear the shorts casually. These are … a little loud, but the range of colours give you options of what you could wear them with, if you so choose.
They're pretty much aligned with a modern-day All-Star uniform now that I look at them. Just, toonified, which fits.
I think kids should love them, which is what really matters, as much as we probably would deny it.
Irving: I just laughed reading that last part, because you and I definitely aren't the only people that are 25-or-older that feel like this movie is being made for us, when really that couldn't be further from the case haha.
I will say, though, the Good Squad jerseys are awesome. I'm a huge fan of the colour purple, so maybe that's playing a role for me there, but I think they absolutely nailed those.
They sort of look like they could be Toronto Raptors' alternates, but I like 'em a lot.
McGregor: When you say that, they do remind me of a Raptors alternate or something.
They definitely pass my "would I rock the shorts" check, too.
Kind of reminds me of the galaxy collection, too (Space Jam, duh), but the Foams that literally stopped the sneaker world for a moment back then. Good times, good times.
Irving: We're only weeks away from being able to see both new uniforms and the new LeBron 19s on the big screen when the Toon Squad takes on the Goon Squad in "Space Jam: A New Legacy."
Any predictions on how you think that matchup unfolds? Haha.
McGregor: Ha! I've got the Tune Squad winning a close one, predicting big game from that guard Bugs Bunny. He's not afraid of the big moment at all.
I'm just interested to see who else steps up.
Irving: Give me a chasedown block by LeBron followed by a pull-up 3 on the right wing from Bugs Bunny to win the game. They say history repeats itself.
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