LeBron James dunks on Space Jam: A New Legacy haters, plus that epic Michael Jordan cameo – USA TODAY

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  • “Space Jam: A New Legacy” won the box office crown over “Black Widow” this weekend.
  • LeBron James tweeted an article about the win, writing “Hi Haters!” with a laughing emoji.
  • “Space Jam” star Don Cheadle had some verbal slams on LeBron James during filming.

Beware: The following contains some “Space Jam: A New Legacy” spoilers. Stop reading now if you don’t want key moments revealed.

LeBron James put an exclamation point on his box-office win for “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” posting a note to critics as the comedy beat out “Black Widow” for the weekend’s top spot.

“Hi Haters,” James wrote Saturday on Twitter with a laughing emoji, sharing an article about the movie’s box-office domination.

There have been a few vocal doubters for “A New Legacy,” the follow-up to Michael Jordan’s 1996 “Space Jam”: Just 31% of critics liked the new film on review site Rotten Tomatoes. But “Space Jam” brought out the nostalgic supporters to exceed expectations in theaters.

James retweeted director Malcolm D. Lee, who wrote, “Many thanks to the fans!!! We made this for you and reward us with your presence.”

The taunts were par for the “New Legacy” course.

** This is your last chance to bail. Spoilers below! **

‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ burning Q’s:Is that LeBron James’ mansion? Is that his real family?

Taunting was the name of Don Cheadle’s game, and he got huge

As digital villain AI-G Rhythm, Don Cheadle got some good swipes in on James, improvising a line that questioned James’ place among the game’s greatest players. Cheadle says there were a few of those moments during filming.

“There was another point where I said, ‘You’re like one of the greatest of all time, second greatest, third greatest,’ I just kept going down,” says Cheadle. ” And as soon as they cut filming, LeBron just cracked up. That line didn’t make the movie, but it’s something I did.”

LeBron James gets up in "Space Jam: A New Legacy."

Late in “A New Legacy,” Cheadle transforms to huge size and enters the game against James. In reality, it was 5-foot-8 Cheadle in a motion-capture outfit squaring off against 6-foot-9 James.

In one scene, Al-G dunks on James, taunting him while standing over the fallen player. That’s James beneath Cheadle, who was super-sized digitally in post-production.

“When I flush it and stand over him, I was like, ‘Oh, let’s get a pic!’ ” says Cheadle, who relished his action with James. “Watching LeBron James play like an inch away from my face, both in an athletic posture, like we’re about to break on a play, that was really cool. All the hand-checking, all that stuff, we actually did.”

Not that Cheadle has any expectations of truly taking LeBron James. “I could take him … to dinner,” the actor says.

Michael Jordan surrounded by Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters to promote "Space Jam."

To B or not to B: That ‘Michael Jordan’ appearance

Cheadle set off headlines in May, proclaiming to Access Hollywood that “Michael Jordan is in the movie, but not in the way you’d expect it.”

Sure enough, “A New Legacy” reveals “Black Panther” star Michael B. Jordan is accidentally recruited during the epic Goon Squad game. After the wrong Jordan appears to the famed Bulls introductory music, Michael B. Jordan heads back to the stands.

The cameo makes sense given the long-standing relationship between “A New Legacy” producer Ryan Coogler, who has collaborated with Jordan since 2013’s “Fruitvale Station” on “Creed” and “Black Panther.” 

“I saw Michael B. Jordan around set a couple of times,” says Cedric Joe, who plays James’ son in “A New Legacy.” 

“I didn’t really know he had a cameo until I walked to another set where LeBron was doing the Michael B. Jordan cameo, which was really cool,” says Joe. “I just said what Don said when people asked me, I’d say that Jordan is in the movie.”

Lee joked just before the movie’s opening that the door was still open, should the real Michael Jordan want a role inserted. “Michael Jordan is still possible. We’re still holding out hope we can get him in the movie,”  Lee told USA TODAY. “We can do a last minute, even last second edit, whatever he wants.”

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