The GuardianThe Guardian

‘Michael Jordan changed the world’: The true story behind Nike movie Air

By David Smith

05 Apr 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

In Ben Affleck's new sporting biopic, the camera focuses on the action that happens off the basketball court. The Guardian looks at what this film leaves out.

“I didn’t give a damn about Michael Jordan,” recalls Sonny Vaccaro. “He did not play in my all-star game that I had for 20 years. I didn’t pick him; I picked somebody else who was damn good too.”

But lodged somewhere in the brain of Vaccaro, an executive at Nike hunting basketball’s next big thing, was the memory of 1982 and a moment for the sporting gods. Jordan, a 19-year-old freshman displaying preternatural calm, had made a 16ft jump shot with 15 seconds left to win the national college championship for North Carolina.

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