NBA games frequently feature star-studded lineups of Hollywood celebrities coming to support their favorite teams. A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jay Z, Drake, Emma Stone, Mark Wahlberg, Rihanna, and many others have been seen courtside on numerous occasions. The two-time academy award winning actor Denzel Washington is no exception to this.
His love for the sport made him grab the front row seats which led to some fun stories. One of such stories from his personal catalogue involves Michael Jordan.
Denzel Washington’s anecdote about Michael Jordan
The two-time academy award-winning actor, Denzel Washington, was occasionally seen in the front row supporting his beloved team, the LA Lakers. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in 2018, Washington spoke about an incident that involved none other than Michael Jordan.
When the host asked about his opinion on who the greatest basketball player was, he found the question difficult to answer and countered it with, “At what?”. Kimmel wouldn’t let him dodge the question, so he said “basketball” to which everyone burst into laughter.
The Hollywood star then revealed that he once went out for dinner with NBA legend Michael Jordan after a Bulls match that he attended with American movie director Spike Lee. Describing the massive popularity of “His Airness” Denzel said that he was “doing security work” for the Bulls legend.
The actor attempted to get Jordan drunk, hoping he would not perform at his usual high standards in the next game against the Lakers. Washington shared, “I went out after that game because the next game they were coming to LA to play. And I was trying to get him drunk, trying to get him off.”
However, the six-time championship winner didn’t fall for the ploy and cleverly pretended to take a sip. Denzel humorously recounted, “He would put it to his lip and then put it back down.” Despite the failed mission, the Lakers fan eventually acknowledged MJ’s greatness, admitting he was the best, at least for “that night.”
Michael Jordan’s Hollywood connection
The influence of the seven-time NBA Finals MVP winner extended beyond the basketball court and reached into Hollywood. “Air,” a 2023 film directed by Ben Affleck, explores the origin of Air Jordan and Nike’s efforts to secure the then-rising star Michael Jordan.
Faced with the potential shutdown of their basketball shoe division, the sports marketing executive, Sony Vaccaro, devised a plan to sign the rookie from the Bulls. Described in reviews as “an immensely entertaining drama based on true events that changed the game and the business of basketball,” “Air” has achieved a worldwide gross of $90 million.
In addition to numerous documentaries, the 15-time NBA All-Star made an appearance in the 1996 movie “Space Jam.” The film depicts retired Jordan assisting Looney Tunes characters in winning a basketball match against invading aliens to save the planet.
Enjoying considerable commercial success, the movie earned over $250 million globally. Decades later, Jordan’s impact on the silver screen continued with a reboot, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” in 2021, featuring none other than his on-court successor, LeBron James.