This article was originally published Aug. 16, 2019.
America rejoiced when the Looney Tunes won their freedom and returned the talents of five major NBA stars back to their original owners with the Tunes Squad’s chaotic, 78-77, comeback victory against the Monstars.
On its face, it seemed good had triumphed over evil as no innocent cartoon was forced into slavery, and Michael Jordan could continue his athletic career on this planet, not Moron Mountain. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
For a game with such enormous stakes, who would officiate the showdown was crucial. The documentary that was released in 1996 about the game and its lead-up, Space Jam, doesn’t include the selection process for the game’s refs. This should immediately raise suspicions.
With so much riding on the outcome, one has to believe Mr. Swackhammer, the owner of Moron Mountain and de facto general manager of the Monstars, would want input into who made the calls, particularly considering his domineering nature. It would seem he and the other Moron Mountain representatives would want a neutral to officiate the game, or at the very least not a Looney Tune. But that’s precisely what happened.
Well-known Looney Tune and noted nemesis of Duck Dodgers, Marvin the Martian, was suited in the black-and-white stripes come tip-off. That should set off serious sirens in your mind.
I have seen arguments that Marvin was the best option for the job given his duel citizenship as a Looney Tune and alien, but what this fails to take into account is Marvin’s vulnerability in the situation as a Looney Tune. Mr. Swackhammer quite clearly does not care if he enslaves aliens. He is not running a pro-alien agenda. He is running a pure capitalist agenda, and capitalism does not see ethnicity, only profits. If the Monstars had won, Marvin would have been shackled and shipped to Moron Mountain like his fellow Looney Tune brethren.
But perhaps the most troubling moment came late in the game when Bill Murray appeared from nowhere and was immediately allowed to play. Mr. Swackhammer and his team had no prior knowledge Murray would dress, as proven by the businessman’s surprise when the actor waltzed onto the floor and announced himself.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Mr. Swackhammer exclaimed. “I didn’t know Dan Aykroyd was in this picture!”
Not only did the Monstars not know Murray would play, the team was kept so in the dark, Mr. Swackhammer didn’t know who he was on first glance.
On the ensuing defensive possession, Murray designed the scheme that turned the Monstars over as he brilliantly had Daffy Duck don a football helmet, then run full force into Pound’s stomach as he received the ball, the impact releasing the rock from his grip. Murray picked up the loose change, handled the ball halfway down the court, then passed it behind his back to teammate Michael Jordan.
With six seconds remaining, Murray received a pass delivered via Bugs Bunny’s ears and immediately broke Blanko’s ankles with a classic matador pull away. He then made a no-look dish back to Jordan, which would become the game-winning pass after the greatest player of all time took off from mid-court and rocked the rim as the clock expired.
Murray officially concluded the game with zero points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks or shot attempts. According to the box score, he did not impact the game. But to argue Murray that would be disingenuous.
Other than the vital plays Murray made in the waning seconds of the game, he also allowed greater depth for his team when it needed it most. The Tune Squad needed another ball handler on the floor as the Monstars applied aggressive full-court pressure in the last 10 seconds, and other than Jordan, Lola Bunny and Bugs Bunny, no one else on the roster could protect the ball as well as Murray. If he wasn’t available to bring the ball up the floor, the Looney Tunes would have chains around their necks.
Now, you might be asking yourself: why I, Justin, would take the time to essentially discredit the Tune Squad’s victory. Surely, like the rest of America and the civilized world, I am against slavery and enjoy Looney Tunes, right?
Right. Let me be very clear: No one should condone slavery, and the Looney Tunes are timelessly funny. Let there be no misunderstandings on these two critical stances.
But do you know what I value above all else? Truth. And that’s all I’m asking for.
How was Murray allowed to enter the game? How was a Looney Tune granted officiating duties? Are they linked?
I am requesting a full investigation into the Tune Squad’s operations in the times leading up to the game. I’d like to see all correspondences between the Looney Tunes and Monstars in the weeks before the showdown. I want to know who made the final call to make Marvin the Martian the referee.
Until we have these answers, we have to look at this game with a cloud of doubt. There are too many coincidences to take at face value that a collection of untrained cartoon characters were able to beat five alien monsters with the talent of NBA all-stars, even with the help of Jordan.
Perhaps it was all fair, and I hope it was. I do not wish ill toward the Looney Tunes, and as we have established, I do think they’re quite looney. But we deserve to know the truth, no matter what it is.
This is a call for action from all other basketball fans and humans alike who care about honesty and integrity. If you respect the net, never forget.