In a comic book and a massive Nike ad campaign, Godzilla and Charles Barkley met at one of the strangest basketball games ever.
By any measure, Godzilla is one of the most famous cinematic monsters in history. Since 1954 Gojira made its way to the American shores in 1956 in Godzilla: King of the MonstersGodzilla has been a household name that has appeared in dozens of movies, TV shows, and comics, and has made many famous friends and foes along the way. While the King of the Monsters is about to have his long-awaited rematch with King Kong in Godzilla vs. KongGodzilla had its weirdest crossover in the ’90s. A few years before the Looney Toons teamed up with Michael Jordan for Space Jam, a massive Nike ad campaign reunited Godzilla with NBA superstar Charles Barkley.
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In 1992, flashy crosses were a big part of comics and commercials. At the cusp of this trend, Nike launches a tv commercial with then-NBA superstar Charles Barkley taking on a wraparound-glasses Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. As Godzilla rampages through the streets, an equally massive Barkley approaches with the ball in hand. Godzilla tries to grab the ball with a sneaky tail swing, but Barkley is ready and pushes the monster to hit the ball through a makeshift edge behind him. After being submerged, Godzilla joins Barkley for a walk into the sunset, confident that there might be a home for him in the Lakers.
As surprising as that commercial was and the posters and t-shirts that backed it up, Dark Horse Comics released a follow-up comic in 1993, Godzilla vs. Barkley, which took the exaggerated premise even further.
Written by Mike Baron and with art by Jeff Butler and Keith Aiken, 1993 Charles Barkley vs. Godzilla It started with the titular superstar walking down the beach with her handlers before meeting Matt, a boy who implores her to stop the approaching Godzilla. Playing on Barkley’s then controversial reputation, he fires his handlers to help Matt get him into town.
There Matt gives Barkley his grandfather’s lucky silver dollar, which magically transforms him into an imposing version of himself. Barkley heads to confront Godzilla, offering to take their fight to court. While Charles Barkley jokes that “Godzilla is a fan of b-ball,” Godzilla is eager to take up the challenge.
The two head to a former military base, where the scaffolding from an old space shuttle launch is repurposed to make a hoop. Godzilla is surprisingly quick on his feet, but the Monster King has no chance of scoring more than a handful of points against one of the greatest players of all time. With a cheering crowd, Barkley cleans the court with Godzilla. Defeated, Godzilla is forced to agree to the terms of the deal, which apparently included the monster who spent a century practicing his game in a remote area of Utah.
Equipped with a 13,000 EEE size Nike, Godzilla is instructed to fire a million trays that Barkley will check periodically. They may not be the most embarrassing defeats Godzilla has suffered, but it is absolutely one of the most unforgettable.
Unfortunately, Godzilla’s basketball skills probably won’t come into play in his next fight with King Kong. But if Godzilla followed Barkley’s instructions to practice, the monster could be the big man Tune Squad needs in Space Jam: A New Legacy later this year.
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