It’s hard to imagine a time before Nike was synonymous with Basketball apparel. But prior to 1984, the company had almost no market share in the space. That was until Nike’s Sonny Vaccaro convinced his CEO Phil Knight to spend their entire annual budget designing one shoe for a young up-and-coming basketball player recently drafted into the NBA. The player Vaccaro was sure was on the verge of superstardom was none other than Michael Jordon. So in the same year Jordan joined the professional league, the iconic Nike Air Jordan was born, going on to make a jaw-dropping $162 million in sales in its first year and paving the way for Nike to become one of them the biggest sports apparel companies in the world. The unbelievable true story of the gamble Vaccaro convinced Nike to make is depicted in Affleck’s upcoming movie Air, which he directed. Recently the actor/director opened up about how a meeting with the basketball legend helped shape how he approached Air’s story.
According to Affleck, in an interview he gave NME, he intended to center his movie solely on the Basketball legend. Early in development Ben (and his pal Matt Damon who stars in the film) took a trip to Florida to court Jordan about the project, who he knew causally from playing cards with him and other chance meetings. The filmmaker asked the iconic sports figure if any people were involved in his story that he thought were “fundamentally important or true” to him that should be included in the movie. To the Argo filmmaker’s surprise, one of the most influential people in Michael’s story and Air Jordan’s inception was his parents. Ben told the publication:
Affleck observed Jordan’s profound admiration, respect, and love for his parents, especially his mother. According to the actor, Jordan claimed his mother was responsible for him even meeting with Nike because Mike says he was more of a Converse man. Affleck continued about his time with Jordan and how this revelation changed his intentions with the film:
Viola Davis, who recently achieved EGOT status by winning a Grammy in February 2023, portrays the icon’s mother Deloris Jordan. Meanwhile, Julius Tennon plays the role of MJ’s late father, James Jordan Sr. According to Affleck, when he asked Jordan who he thought would be the best fit for the part of his mother, he immediately and, perhaps, fittingly suggested Viola Davis. As a four-time Oscar nominee and winner of Best Actress for Fences in 2017, Davis is widely regarded (like Jordan) as one of the greatest of all time in her field.
It’s clear that Affleck and company cared deeply about making Air as respectful and faithful to Jordan’s story as possible, even going so far as taking the trip to Florida to meet with the NBA Giant to get his blessing before signing on to the project and ultimately refocusing their story.
Moviegoers can see Affleck’s hard work and attention to detail pay off when Air releases in theaters on April 5th and will be exclusively available in theaters for some time before being available to stream for anyone with an Amazon Prime Video subscription. To stay informed about the latest movie releases in theaters and streaming in the near future, you can refer to CinemaBlend’s 2023 new movie releases schedule.