Klay Thompson is used to playing the sidekick on the court, both next to two-time MVP Steph Curry on the Golden State Warriors and also this weekend in his first big move onto the big screen.
But in at least one town, Thompson was able to steal the spotlight from his new “Space Jam” co-star LeBron James, earning top billing for his role in reboot of the family friendly movie initially led by Michael Jordan.
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Oakland Shows Love for Klay
While “Space Jam: A New Legacy” was conceived as a project to highlight James, Thompson snagged a role as one of the Goon Squad opponents and was able to take top billing in Warriors country. The Grand Lake theater in Oakland put Thompson’s name on the marquee, pitching the film as “Space Jam with Klay Thompson.”
Thompson is not the only player to represent Golden State in the “Space Jam” reboot. The Goon Squad also included a cartoon representation of Draymond Green, along with fellow NBA stars Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. WNBA stars Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike appear as well.
The movie is the first time that Warriors fans have seen Thompson on any kind of court in more than two years after he suffered back-to-back season-ending injuries. The Splash Brother has been working his way back from a torn Achilles and is on pace to return at some point early next season, though Warriors general manager Bob Myers warned that it could take quite a bit longer for him to fully return to form.
“What we’re focused on is when Klay will be Klay, and I don’t know if that will be January, February or March. It’s too early to say,” Myers said, via Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Klay Landed Coveted Role
As James said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, there was a lot of interest among NBA players to appear in the movie, especially since he and a lot of other players grew up loving the movie.
“The phone would ring, the texts would come in, and then on social media a lot of people were tweeting at me saying, ‘Hey, I’m available for Space Jam if you need me. LOL. Asking for a friend.’ A lot of people my age or even younger just remember the classic. They remember Space Jam the original, and people want to be a part of it, because it’s something that lasts forever, something that’s timeless, and something that you can tell your kids and grandkids about.
James noted that producers initially pitched the idea to him 15 years ago, but he didn’t think he was ready to lead such a high-profile project so early in his career. That’s likely good news for Thompson, who was still in high school at the time.
Thompson still had plenty of challenges in his appearance this time around. Filming began shortly after he tore his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and video caught Thompson on crutches meeting up with James on the campus of the USC campus to start filming.