“Air” (2023) Review: The Origin Story of Air Jordan Takes Flight

Directed by Ben Affleck and written by Alex Convery, “Air” is a captivating biographical sports drama that delves into the fascinating backstory of the iconic Air Jordan basketball shoe line. Based on true events, the film offers a compelling narrative centered around the efforts of a Nike employee to strike a groundbreaking business deal with rookie basketball sensation Michael Jordan.



Set in 1984, the story unfolds against the backdrop of Oregon-based Nike, Inc., which is on the brink of discontinuing its basketball shoe division due to sluggish sales. Facing this challenge, Nike’s Marketing VP Rob Strasser (Matt Damon) and CEO Phil Knight (Ben Affleck) turn to Nike’s basketball talent scout, Sonny Vaccaro (played brilliantly by Matt Damon), to find a new face for their basketball shoe line.

While exploring potential candidates from the 1984 NBA draft, Nike’s executives initially consider Michael Jordan (Damian Young) off-limits due to his preference for Adidas and concerns about the budget. However, Sonny Vaccaro, who recognizes Jordan as a generational talent, becomes convinced that he’s the key to revitalizing Nike’s basketball division.

The film masterfully depicts Vaccaro’s journey, from watching Jordan’s mesmerizing highlights to convincing Michael’s mother, Deloris (Viola Davis), that Nike is the perfect fit for her son. Despite facing competition from Adidas, Nike ultimately secures Michael Jordan, signing him on the condition that he receives a percentage of every Air Jordan sold.



“Air” offers a thrilling narrative that showcases the power of conviction, belief, and visionary marketing. The film portrays the determination of Sonny Vaccaro and the audacious decision of Phil Knight to invest in Jordan, even with the added bonus of sharing profits, as a pivotal turning point in sports marketing history. The creation of the “Air Jordan” prototype, named after Nike’s Air Sole technology, adds an intriguing layer to the narrative.

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The performances in “Air” are top-notch, with Matt Damon delivering a standout portrayal of Sonny Vaccaro, capturing his passion and unwavering belief in Michael Jordan’s potential. Ben Affleck‘s portrayal of Phil Knight adds depth to the film, showcasing the visionary leadership that led to the creation of a cultural phenomenon.

The film effectively balances the business side of the story with personal elements, including Jordan’s interactions with his family, agent David Falk (Chris Messina), and the rivalry with Adidas. Viola Davis shines in her role as Deloris Jordan, conveying the mother’s love and concern for her son’s future.

The historical accuracy and attention to detail are commendable, as the film delves into the negotiations, challenges, and risks involved in securing Michael Jordan’s endorsement. The epilogue revealing the massive success of the Air Jordan line emphasizes the impact of this business decision.


In conclusion

“Air” is a must-see for sports enthusiasts, sneakerheads, and anyone intrigued by the backstory of the Air Jordan phenomenon. Ben Affleck‘s direction, Alex Convery‘s screenplay, and the stellar performances by the cast come together to create an engaging and insightful cinematic experience. It’s a film that pays homage to the origins of an iconic brand and the individuals who believed in the potential of a rising basketball star. “Air” soars to great heights in the world of sports cinema, leaving audiences inspired by the journey that gave birth to a legendary sneaker line.

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