So much had to go right for Nike‘s Air Jordan brand to become the most popular sneaker in the world. Sure, the creative team had to make something that looked cool—but they also had to bet everything on an NBA rookie. Somehow, it paid off. The player that Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro courted just so happened to be Michael Jordan. Now, the true story is about to be adapted into an upcoming film, titled Air.
Directed by Ben Affleck and starring Matt Damon, Jason Bateman, Viola Davis, and Chris Tucker, Air will focus on how Vaccaro landed signing Jordan, as well as how Nike revolutionized sneaker culture. The basketball legend is very particular about the use of his likeness by the media, however, so Jordan will not be portrayed throughout the film. Air will be Affleck’s return to directing since 2016’s Live By Night—and the latest film to feature both Affleck and Damon since Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel in 2021. “I’m willing to bet my career on one guy,” Vaccaro says in the new trailer. Amazon reportedly spent $7 million to air the trailer during the Super Bowl this Sunday, but the first official trailer dropped early this Thursday ahead of its theatrical release on April 5.
Nike’s basketball sneaker exploits were recently portrayed in HBO’s Showtime: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, which featured heavy creative license telling the story of Phil Knight’s original pitch to Magic Johnson. The Showtime Lakers star was signed to Converse at the time, but he was also a top draft prospect and expected to be an NBA star. “Boy, did I make a mistake,” Johnson would later reveal to Inc., adding that Nike offered him stock options at the time that would have been worth around $1 billion today while Converse offered him cash. Trying again in 1984, Nike would land Michael Jordan right after he was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls. They signed him to five-year, $2.5 million deal—and the rest is history. Catch the trailer below.
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Josh Rosenberg is an entertainment writer living in Brooklyn, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day; his past work can be found at CBR, Spin, Insider, and on his personal blog at Roseandblog.com.