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By Hannah Connolly
ONDON: The Stack World headed to an exclusive all-women screening of Air, the feature film detailing the inception of the Air Jordan’s and the woman behind one of the most lucrative business deals in sportswear history.
If you are looking for a definition of soft power then look no further than Air. Coming in as Ben Affleck’s sixth directorial project, this two hour feature captures the story of how Nike Jordan’s came into being. The stand out? Viola Davis' role as Deloris Jordan.
Michael Jordan is without doubt one of the greatest athletes of our times, reaching heights that few other professional sportsmen have ever obtained. Yet, the heart of the story behind the trainers that still dominate the market, is one of a deal that has permanently changed the collaborative game of business forever.
The star behind the shoes may have played on the court, but his mother was the all-star player of the quiet, but astronomically successful kind. Determined and clear in her direction for both her family and her son, the deal she struck with Nike is to this day one of a game-changing nature.
Deloris Jordan was a former bank teller born in North Carolina, who inherently recognised, not only the talent, but the worth of her son to a large scale IPO’d company and ensured that big business paid him accordingly.
At the time Air is set, the film opening with a mood setting montage of 1984, Nike, though successful in the running market, is largely failing to keep up with their major competitors, namely German owned and at the time favoutire of young Michael Jordan, Adidas, and court star favourite CONVERSE (who after the Jordan deal Nike would later buy).
Long time collaborator of Affleck’s Matt Damon stars as Sonny Vaccaro, who picks Jordan out as the star to watch, telling Affleck’s character the CEO of Nike, Phil Knight that the budget of $250,000 — intended to be split across three burgeoning players — instead be placed on one rookie, Michael Jordan — how’d ya like them apples, quite literally.
This story, though largely starring an all male cast including: Jason Bateman’s role as a lead Nike Marketing director, Chris Tucker as Howard White (who still sits as an exec on the Jordan division in 2023), Matthew Maher as Peter Moore who designed the initial high top’s and was the man behind the Jordan silhouette still on the shoes today, it remained Viola Davis who stole the show.
What Deloris Jordan stipulated was that her son was paid a percentage per shoe, something that had never before been agreed upon with a professional athlete. It was game changing, and future deal defining.
In the first year Air Jordan’s were released, Nike made a staggering $126million, far surpassing their target goal set at $3million. Since then, the Jordan brand has brought $19billion USD to the Nike Brand. Jordan earns 5% of these takings and in 2020 it was reported his contract had earned him $1.3billion — to this day, Michael Jordan is the highest earning athlete of all time.
Air is set to be released in cinemas across the UK on April 5th.
Air, the true story behind the inception of Nike Jordan’s.
By Hannah Connolly