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Ben Affleck Recalls Meeting With Michael Jordan And How His Airness Helped Him To See How Air’s Story Should Go

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:

Initially, to be honest, I was going to have it be a story about Michael himself, saying, ‘This is what I’m worth’; His parents weren’t so much a part of the story.