Michael Jordan didn’t have much down time in the summer of 1995. The Chicago Bulls superstar spent the offseason filming the movie “Space Jam” at Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California — plus, he was trying to get back into peak basketball shape after leaving the NBA to play professional baseball for 13 months.
Jordan was 32 at the time and already had three NBA championships under his belt. He told Warner Bros. that he needed a court to work out on when he wasn’t on set.
“Sure enough, when we came out there to do the film, it was all set up,” Jordan recalled on an episode of “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary ESPN and Netflix made in partnership with Jump 23, Jordan’s production company, about the dynasty he built in Chicago.
Jordan made the most of the “Jordan Dome,” as the facility came to be known. Even though he was filming six days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the athlete managed to fit in about five hours of practice.
He used the two-hour break he got every day to work out with his personal trainer Tim Grover. Then, after filming wrapped at 7 p.m., he played pickup games with other pros for up to three hours.
“We had the idea, if we invited the best players in the league out here, he would get a chance to see everybody before the season started,” said former Bulls teammate B.J. Armstrong. It started as a way to do scouting reports on his competition — and then, “it became like a thing: Everyone had to come out to Warner Bros. Studio to play against Michael Jordan.”
Top players like Patrick Ewing, Dennis Rodman and Reggie Miller all showed up to play at the Jordan Dome. “It was some of the best games,” recalled Miller. “There were no officials, so you were calling your own fouls. It was a little more rugged and raw.”
Jordan’s ability to scrimmage at such an intense level after a full work day was superhuman, Miller added: “I don’t know how he filmed all day and then still had the energy to play three hours. … This dude was like a vampire.”
His discipline in the offseason paid off. By the time preseason training camp started, “he was in incredible shape,” said Jordan’s former teammate Steve Kerr. And the whole team benefited: The Bulls finished the 1995-1996 regular season with a 72-10 record, the winningest in NBA history at the time. (Their record stood until 2016, when the Golden State Warriors went 73-9.)
The Bulls went on to defeat the Seattle Sonics in the NBA Finals to capture their fourth championship. And Jordan was awarded the MVP of the NBA that season.