Jerry Krause, the General Manager of the Chicago Bulls during their championship dynasty, was heavily present in the first two episodes of The Last Dance, and it seems very likely that he was the inspiration behind Space Jam‘s main antagonist. The Last Dance follows Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan and the franchise’s domination of the league in the 1990s while documenting the team’s final season as champs. While doing so, the documentary also showcases the team GM as a villain since there was so much drama between Krause and other members of the organization.

In the midst of Jordan’s time on the Bulls, he entered a brief retirement to play in Minor League Baseball. Though he had dreams of making it to the big-time, he never made it out of Double-A within the Chicago White Sox organization. The baseball went on strike in 1995, Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls and helped the team with another three championships starting the following season. Jordan’s initial retirement and comeback with the focus on the 1996 sports comedy, Space Jam, although it was a fictionalized account. Jordan starred in the film, directed by Joe Pytka, which also featured a mix of live-action and animation with the presence of characters from the Looney Tunes.


Space Jam took place when Jordan left basketball behind to pursue a baseball career. Meanwhile, in outer space, the villainous Mr. Swackhammer looked for new attractions at his intergalactic theme park, Moron Mountain. He sent his small minions, the Nerdlucks, to abduct the Looney Tunes but were challenged by a game of basketball. After the Nerdlucks stole the powers of real NBA players and transformed into the Monstars, Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes captured Jordan and took him to their world to play on their team. Jordan battled the Monstars on the court and personally wagered his fate with Mr. Swackhammer before paving his way back to the NBA. Seeing as how Krause had control of the Bulls during Jordan’s time on the team, it’s difficult not to draw similarities between the GM and Mr. Swackhammer.

How Jerry Krause Was Presented As A Villain In The Last Dance

Although Krause put together an elite team headlined by Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr, it was undeniable that he transformed into an enemy. After the team won its fifth championship in 1997, Krause was outspoken that the Bulls dynasty was on its last legs. He increasingly fractured his relationship with head coach Phil Jackson before giving him one more year, whether they won a championship or not. Krause also lost a lot of the players’ respect with statements implying that he was solely responsible for the team’s success. The Last Dance confirmed Jordan’s distaste for Krause and his statements about rebuilding, trading players, and putting together a younger team.

While there’s no confirmation that a real-life figure served as the inspiration behind Mr. Swackhammer in Space Jam, it now seems likely that Krause was the man in mind. Though he wasn’t the proprietor of a theme park, Krause was the leader of a professional basketball team meant to provide entertainment. Whereas Mr. Swackhammer enslaved creatures for attractions, Krause had control of his players as the GM and didn’t always hide the fact that the business side often came before personal feelings. He wanted to disband the group that gave Chicago a handful of championships and to avid fans, Krause didn’t seem to care who he hurt in the process.

Viewers of The Last Dance also couldn’t let go of the fact that Krause sort of resembled Mr. Swackhammer’s animated features, especially when it came to his short stature. As the sports documentary continues to unfold, more details about Krause and his relationship with the Bulls will surely be in focus. After the team won their final championship in 1998, Jordan retired again and most of the big players left Chicago. Krause failed in building a new dynasty and retired as GM in 2003. He worked for several baseball teams before passing away in 2017 at the age of 73. Space Jam will officially get a sequel, titled Space Jam 2, set for release in the summer of 2021. Instead of Jordan, the live-action star will be current NBA superstar, LeBron James.

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