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“Air” Never Quite Reaches Championship Heights

3 Apr

Air, Ben Affleck’s simply titled origin story of the Air Jordan, is not a sports movie. It’s a sports marketing movie. The film tells the story of how, in 1984, Nike sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) worked to convince both his colleagues and Michael Jordan’s parents (Viola Davis and her actual husband, Julius Tennon) that a Jordan-branded basketball sneaker would be a slam dunk.

It’s easy for viewers now to dismiss this as an obvious idea. But remember: It all happened before MJ’s rookie NBA season, back when he was an unproven player, and Nike was the number-three sneaker brand (behind Converse and Adidas), not the corporate behemoth we know today. Also, athlete-branded shoes just weren’t a thing back then. But against all odds, and the wishes of the company’s board of directors, Nike went all in on this deal — one that, if it failed, likely would have ended the fledgling brand altogether. 

All these years later, we know how that gamble turned out.

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