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"He never stacked his team" — Scrimmage coordinator reveals Michael Jordan's "strategic" training sessions during Space Jam filming

According to a ex-NBA forward, Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller engaged in some nasty trash-talking.
Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

1995 was a big year for Michael Jordan. Not only was he shooting “Space Jam,” but he was also preparing for his full season back in the league. According to the production’s technical adviser, who also coordinated Jordan’s scrimmages, the GOAT was very strategic in his approach to practice and getting himself ready.

No super teams

Every day after filming, Jordan headed to the “Jordan Dome” — an inflatable dome in the VIP parking of the Warner Bros. studio — to play ball. Nigel Miguel, Space Jam’s technical adviser who also coordinated basketball scenes, cast talent, and organized the pickup games, revealed that Jordan was the one who picked his teammate from the lot of NBA players and UCLA standouts.

"MJ would tell us that he wanted the teams set up a certain way because he wanted to work on certain things that day or whatever. He was very strategic. He’d say, I’m trying to work on going to my move this way, I’m trying to work on passing, I want to post-up. Those types of things. And he never stacked his team,” Miguel said per SLAM.

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Perhaps this is why old heads went berserk when superteams started mushrooming around the league. Rivals were becoming best friends. Players who almost killed one another suddenly had secret handshakes.

While the ultimate goal is to win a title, the secret mission is to be the best basketball player you could ever be. One way to achieve this is to challenge yourself. And teaming up with your rivals — those you know could stand toe-to-toe against you — isn’t really the ideal path to chart. Besides, a title is more satisfying if it comes at the expense of your most bitter foe.

Miguel also added that Jordan talked a lot about coming back. The GOAT had the Orlando Magic in his mind, the team which ousted them in the Conference Semifinals. As forged in history, Jordan and the Bulls got their revenge on Shaquille O’Neal’s Magic in the 1996 NBA Playoffs by sweeping them in the Conference Finals.

Playoff intensity

Scrimmages at the Jordan Dome featured the likes of Reggie Miller, Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman, Glen Rice, Larry Johnson, and Alonzo Mourning, among others. If you’re a spectator, the games held at the dome had the makings of an All-Star game. But according to former NBA forward Tracy Murray, it wasn’t all fun and games. At one point, Miller and Jordan went back and forth with one another.

It wasn’t like the All-Star Game today where dudes are letting each other dunk. Nah, if you went in there to dunk, you were going to get knocked on your ass. It was like an NBA playoff game of the 1990s. There was one particular day when Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan—and you know they had a rivalry—those two went at it,” Murray said.

This is another peek into Jordan’s mind and methods. The GOAT made coming back from retirement look easy. But the reality is, the man put so much work into his craft. It didn’t matter if he was shooting a film or dealing with other things. As long as he had some time and energy, Jordan found time to work on his craft. 

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