The film AIR: Courting A Legend is a story that chronicles Michael Jordan’s rise to sneaker stardom in a game-changing business move — because let’s face it, there would be no “Kickin’ Facts” column without the icon’s brand. The sneaker industry was forever transformed with the unique partnership between Nike, known for running shoes at the time, and Michael, a rookie who had yet to set foot on an NBA court professionally. In the film, real-life events are portrayed by an all-star cast including Ben Affleck, Chris Tucker and Viola Davis, who is at her best yet again as Michael’s passionate mother, Deloris Jordan.
The story begins with Nike shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon), tasked with saving the fledgling basketball division at Nike by recruiting new players. With a small budget and less social appeal to athletes at the time, the mission seemed almost impossible. Even more far-fetched was the idea of signing Michael, the rookie every brand wanted. Throughout the film, Vaccaro goes through the motions of belief, action, persuasion, and almost defeat as he comes up against so many unwilling to believe that Michael at Nike was possible. The roadblocks come from all angles, including Nike founder Phil Knight, but ultimately Vaccaro finds an ally in Deloris after a series of bold moves and one innovative sneaker design.
Spoiler alert: Although the man, the myth, and the legend Michael Jordan isn’t facially present in the film, his presence and voice loom large throughout, especially in moments when he is unwilling to entertain the idea of signing with Nike. In a true testament to grit and not waiting for opportunities to come to you, Sonny Vaccaro willed this idea to life and, in the process, saved the fledgling basketball division and Nike itself from going under. The story of Nike Air Jordan is one that everyone should watch regardless of their attitude toward sneakers. It’s a classic story of belief against all odds and how betting it all on one idea is the best strategy.
AIR: Courting A Legend is scheduled to be released globally on April 5.