“Air” recounts story of Nike’s elevation to the top of sneaker industry


photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Matt Damon and Viola Davis star in “Air”.

Connor Coppola, Staff Writer

Oscar-winning director and actor Ben Affleck returns to the big screen co-starring in “Air” with his best friend Matt Damon. The film made audiences levitate in the theater and takes viewers through a journey of how one of the most recognizable brands of all time became the giant it is today.  

The year is 1984 in Beaverton, Oregon, and Nike is only known for its running apparel, with the basketball side of things not going swimmingly, to say the least. Sonny Vaccaro(Matt Damon) is on a journey to find the next great star to revitalize Nike’s basketball division. He is given many different options from the 1984 NBA draft class by the scouting department but has his heart set on one man only, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, who at the time played three years at North Carolina and was projected to be a top pick in the draft. The problem was Nike had a low budget, no pitch and nothing to convince Jordan in signing with them. Vaccaro does the unthinkable and, without telling anyone about his plan, he goes against the company’s wishes and offers Jordan their entire $250,000 budget in hopes he will consider Nike.  

This feel-good film is about one man putting his entire career on the line in hopes that his make-or-break decision will work out. It might not seem like it currently, but Nike was truly the underdog in terms of the sneaker market back in 1984. Nike only had 12% of the basketball sneaker market share, whereas more established brands like Converse and Adidas dominated the field. Sonny takes a flight to North Carolina without telling anyone at Nike or in Jordan’s family and hopes they will listen to his sales pitch. He has a sit-down meeting in their backyard with Deloris Jordan (Viola Davis) and he is greeted with hostility, but progress has been made by the end of their conversation to further their plans.  

“Air” is not only for sports fans, but for anyone who loves the “American dream” and dealing with adversity. The underdog mentality Affleck and Damon display throughout the whole two-hour picture will make everyone in the theater root for these guys in their journey to secure the man who would change the landscape of shoes forever. One of the main things that makes this movie so enjoyable is it being different from most big-budget films today. This movie makes viewers feel things that those other films couldn’t achieve. There are no crazy special effects, no transportation to another dimension and it has many relatable aspects. Most people are not going to become a multi-billionaire, larger than life figure like Michael Jordan, but everyone has aspirations that one day could be achievable.  

This movie is the quintessential representation of a man who has a dream and will not quit until that dream is fulfilled. Sonny is not an Avenger or Wonder Woman, but someone who was willing to take huge risks and miraculously achieves them. This element is something movies nowadays have been missing, and this makes “Air “a high-flying slam-dunk success.