|Tyler Parker: Bill Murray & the Most Entertaining Seconds in the History of Basketball
Easter & the Saints
“Larry, I’m gonna give us both twos back there. We were in no emotional state to putt.”
– William James Murray
I am incapable of objectively discussing the film Space Jam. That’s the caveat. It meant
the world to me as a boy and even now, seventeen years since it’s theatrical release,
it’s a work of art that I hold very near and very dear to my heart. I get that some people
find the movie a bother. You won’t want to read any more of this piece if that’s the case.
It’ll just send you spiraling further into what I can only assume is a super depressing
loveless existence. Just continue on with your kitten killing or hatred of air or whatever
it is that you do. Space Jam connected with me on a visceral level. The combination of
the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan was / is intoxicating. It leaves me drunk with joy.
When I received the VHS and it’s accompanying pog slammer — Jordan on one side,
Bugs on the other — from the Easter Bunny in 1996 I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t
eat any of my peeps or Butterfinger BB’s I’d also received in my Easter basket for a
week. I inhaled the film. I watched it daily. It was my comfort and my joy. That
slammer got a workout, too. Copped a pretty great Kazaam pog at recess from Jeremy
Kennedy because of that silver disc of destruction. I’m saying, to go against a Space
Jam slammer is to get involved in a land war in Asia.
I went to the Twin Cities one summer during college with a friend of mine named Ryan.
Ryan refuses to wear shorts for the most part and knows more about Cormac McCarthy
than I know about myself. He had a buddy interning in the Target corporate office and,
as the two of them had paired up to start a non-profit together, they needed to meet to
finalize plans going into the school year. Ryan asked that I tag along as he’d found
cheap flights and I said yes since he was my great friend, I’d never been before, would
probably never have an opportunity to go again, and I thought it an opportunity to
maybe find a Minnesota Gophers hockey jersey that, for whatever reason, my Oklahoma
self desired. Maybe I thought it was exotic. I don’t know. I wound up bailing on the idea
once I was up there. Hockey jerseys are expensive.
While we were in town we decided to go to a St. Paul Saints game. The Saints, as
confirmed on Wikipedia, are “a member of the North Division of the American
Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is not affiliated with Major
League Baseball.” The game was a kind of careless fun that only minor and independent
league games can be. Near the end of the Saints loss, the fading Minnesota sun painting
the sky above the ballpark lights a kind of glossy flamingo pink — one of the first
moments of my life I specifically remember thinking something was too pretty to not
document — I decided to take a picture. I stared at the picture on my phone and thought
about how that wasn’t enough. I needed something I could touch, something I could feel,
something I could have in the future that would remind me via a sense that wasn’t sight
how lovely that evening and that St. Paul sky were. I needed a souvenir.
I wound up buying a St. Paul Saints hat. It was simple, a shade of blue slightly darker
than navy. There was an “S” and a “t” and a “P” on the front and the word “Saints”
stitched in cursive on the back. I felt good about it and wore it with pride.
Once, when watching Space Jam at a friends’ house, it ended and I requested that it be
immediately rewound to the final exchange between Bill Murray and Larry Bird. In the
scene, Bill Murray wears a hat. That hat is the same one I bought at that St. Paul
ballpark. I let the room know this and the room let me know that nobody cared. I wear
the hat to this day and when asked about the the meaning I’m generally met with “Cool
story, bro.” I do not care about their flippant responses. They know not what they do.
The Biggest Performance in The Big Game
Murray’s appearances in the film, though brief, are transcendent. The delivered lines
and scenes are the best and most enjoyable of the film and the back and forth banter
with Larry Bird is something that would make Abbott and Costello swoon. (I refuse to
acknowledge that that’s probably a gross over exaggeration and will soldier on
confidently like nothing happened.)
There are separate columns and essays where one can expound upon the otherworldly
comedic prowess that Murray displays throughout the film. It is not the goal of this
piece to do that. Frankly, it is the opinion of this writer that there are no words to
accurately capture the greatness of Murray’s sizable comedic chops and any attempts
to do so would result...CONTINUE READING AT BALLERBALL