Did ‘Space Jam’ Predict the NBA’s Coronavirus Suspension?

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When Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that the NBA suspending the season due to coronavirus seemed like something “out of a movie,” he wasn’t wrong. In the wake of the NBA’s unprecedented decision, sports fans have been quick to point out that classic film Space Jam also predicts a league-wide illness that results in an early season cancellation. The only difference? Space Jam‘s “illness” was caused by aliens, while coronavirus is a real-life pandemic that has killed more than 4,600 people, according to the World Health Organization.

On Wednesday night, the NBA officially suspended the 2019-2020 season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. “The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice,” the league said in a statement. On Thursday, news broke that Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for coronavirus; while the rest of the team and staff tested negative, teams that have played the Jazz in the last two weeks will be required to self-quarantine.

The NBA’s swift decision may seem shocking, but fans have pointed out that it’s not unprecedented — at least, in the world of fiction. In 1996 film Space Jam, five star NBA players, including Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Johnson, have their talent stolen by aliens looking to defeat the Looney Tunes. When the NBA realizes that the five players are suddenly incapacitated, execs assume that there’s some sort of viral illness going around the league, and widespread panic ensues. In order to “guarantee the health and safety of our NBA players,” the commissioner shuts down the season for good. Sound familiar?

With no games on television and March Madness likely a non-starter, basketball fans channeled their energy towards the Space Jam-coronavirus crossover. “Space Jam predicted this,” wrote one user alongside a clip from the film. “Trying to unwind by watching Space Jam was a bad idea,” added another.

Honestly, if you’re going to watch a coronavirus-adjacent movie, Space Jam is probably your best bet. ContagionMaybe not.

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