The summer of 1995 was a busy, critical one for Michael Jordan. After returning to the NBA from his stint as a minor league baseball player, Jordan needed to get back into basketball shape before the 1995-96 season. On top of that, it was time for filming to begin on Space Jam, the Warner Bros. film that would eventually be released in 1996.
So how was Jordan able to hold his own in scenes with screen icons like Bill Murray and Bugs Bunny, all while prepping himself for the upcoming NBA season? Enter the Jordan Dome.
One of Jordan’s stipulations for participating in Space Jam was that he had to have a basketball facility where he can work out and keep his skill sharp. Warner Bros. was happy to oblige, building a domed, fully-equipped court on set.
Jordan’s schedule during filming sounds nearly impossible to maintain. Filming took place Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a two-hour break for mid-day workouts. Once filming was completed for the day, Jordan would hold scrimmages at the Jordan Dome with other NBA players, with runs lasting until 10 p.m.
Among the players to participate in the scrimmages was future Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, who would eventually face Jordan’s Bulls in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, losing in seven games.
“It was some of the best games,” Miller said. “There were no officials, so you were calling your own fouls. So it was a little more rugged and raw. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t know how he had the energy to film all day and then still play three hours. I mean we would play until like 9 or 10 at night and he still had to get weightlifting in and his call time was like at 6 or 7 in the morning. So I don’t know how, this dude was like a vampire for real.”
Eventually, the training paid off. The Bulls went 72-10 in 1995-96 and won the championship; Space Jam made over $230 million worldwide; and Jordan led the Tune Squad back from an enormous halftime deficit to beat the Monstars, winning the game on a dunk from half-court and saving himself from eternal enslavement by Mr. Swackhammer on Moron Mountain.