top of page

The sneaker that saved Nike: 'Air' hits theaters

Ben Affleck as Phil Knight in "Air." Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

Awards season has officially come to an end, and some of the most anticipated films of 2023 are slowly making their way to the big screen.

One of these is "Air," which follows the story of how the iconic Air Jordan sneaker was born into the Nike family and helped evolve Nike into the company it is today.

The cast of "Air" is stacked with big names like Ben Affleck, Viola Davis, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker and Matt Damon. The film was directed by Affleck.

Although former professional basketball player Michael Jordan is a huge part of the story and how the Air Jordan sneaker came to be, the film focuses on the process of convincing Jordan to sign with Nike and not Adidas, which he originally wanted to do.

Sonny Vaccaro, who was working at Nike in 1984, was the talent scout at the time. His goal was to make a deal with a rookie NBA player that was projected to go far in the league.

Jordan, who was statistically one of the best players in the NBA at the time, was at the top of Vaccaro's list. It took time and effort to convince Jordan to eventually sign with Nike, which would lead to a successful collaboration that would ultimately help a struggling Nike recover.

Jordan's deal with Nike in 1984 was a five-year contract worth $2.5 million. This contract was the highest paid NBA collaboration the league had ever seen at that time.

The first ever Air Jordan sneaker paid homage to the colors of the Chicago Bulls, which was Jordan's first team he ever played with in the NBA. He played with the Chicago Bulls from 1984 to 2003.

The now world famous sneaker has been designed in many different colorways for both basketball and street style.

According to Front Office Sports, just in 2022 alone Michael Jordan made $256 million from his collaboration with Nike.

"Air" hit theaters in the U.S. last week on April 5.


bottom of page