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Why Isn’t Michael Jordan in the ‘Air’ Movie?

Michael Jordan from Space Jam in front of Ben Affleck's Phil Knight in the film Air

The upcoming film, Air, has been gaining traction as it recently debuted an official trailer and release date. The Nike drama is directed by Ben Affleck, who also stars in the film along with an impressive line-up of A-list actors. Matt Damon, Chris Tucker, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, and Marlon Wayans are just a few big names who make up the ensemble cast. Meanwhile, the film’s premise has also attracted attention as it will explain the story of how Nike nabbed a partnership with Michael Jordan.

Those familiar with the sportswear company and the NBA legend know that they have had a long and fruitful partnership. Jordan, now retired from basketball, first signed with Nike in 1984 and became a long-time endorser of the company. Given that he is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, his partnership aided in putting Nike on the map and making it the multi-billion corporation it is today.

One might assume that a film about the birth of this partnership would, naturally, include a portrayal of Jordan. After all, the film will incorporate several real-life figures with Affleck set to portray businessman and Nike co-founder Phil Knight and Damon set to take on the role of marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro. As a result, some fans may have been excited to see which actor would get the honor of portraying Jordan. However, no one will be playing Jordan, as he will not appear as a character in the film.

Why Michael Jordan won’t appear in Air

News of Jordan’s absence from Air may seem confusing, but it all comes down to the premise of the film. The Hollywood Reporter highlighted several important details about the film’s plot and where its focus will specifically lie. While Air might be described as a retelling of the birth of the partnership between Nike and Jordan, it is a little more complex than that. The film will actually be focusing specifically on the difficulties that Vaccoro faced when trying to make the deal happen.

As THR reported, Air is more about the unrelenting resolve of Vaccoro, a shoe salesman who has a brilliant idea to sign Jordan on to Nike. To complete his mission, he sets out on a journey that brings him across many figures that are tied to Jordan. As the trailer shows, he even gets the opportunity to meet Jordan’s mother, Deloris Jordan (Davis), and father, James R. Jordan Sr (Julius Tennon), as well as the basketball player’s friends and former coaches. Essentially, he’s coming across all of these people who are very much connected to Jordan, but Jordan somehow remains frustratingly just out of reach. The report concludes: “Jordan will be a mythic figure hovering above the movie and never seen.”

This decision certainly results in the film being told from an interesting angle and explains Jordan’s absence. Likely, many would still appreciate at least a cameo of Jordan, either being portrayed by an actor or even as himself. Otherwise, the film will be teasing a figure for its entirety and then never introduce them. However, refraining from having an actor portray Jordan and instead capturing his legacy as a mythical force also sounds like a respectful tribute. Ultimately, it remains to be seen how fans respond to this unique handling of Jordan in Air.

(Via: THR, featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.