Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the Academy Award winners behind “Good Will Hunting,” are teaming up to make a movie about Nike’s efforts to sign Michael Jordan to a sneaker deal, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro, who appeared on 2015’s ESPN 30 for 30 “Sole Man,” and Nike co-founder Phil Knight will be the film’s central characters.
Damon will reportedly play Vaccaro and Affleck will play Knight. Affleck and Damon won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting” and the two collaborated on the script and starred in 2021’s “The Last Duel.” Affleck, who will direct the film, also won an Academy Award for Best Movie as producer for “Argo”.
The film will focus on Nike’s effort to sign Jordan in 1984, when Jordan was entering the NBA. Coming out of North Carolina, Jordan was the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft and Vaccaro managed to bend over backwards for what was, at the time, a small shoe company and keep Jordan away from Adidas, Reebok and Converse. . In doing so, Vaccaro helped transform Nike, the relationship between an athlete and a brand, and the athletic footwear industry as a whole.
“Even though I never imagined wearing the (Nike) shoe, the creativity it brought me and the education of what it’s all about, what I wear on my feet and how it improves my athletic ability made me happy, I’m happy with the choice,” Jordan said in 2004.
In 2021, Yahoo! Finance reported that Jordan Brand, an offshoot of Nike, had $5 billion in sales, and in 2020, Forbes estimated that Nike had paid Jordan an estimated $1.3 billion since 1984.
Affleck and Damon are getting into the genesis of all of that.
Vaccaro, now 82, helped make the sneaker industry what it is today by signing the likes of Jordan and Kobe Bryant to multimillion-dollar deals for Nike.
“I don’t think people understood how my career evolved. I wanted the public to know how sneaker marketing started. For better or worse, this is who I am,” Vaccaro told ESPN of “Sole Man” in 2015.” No, I don’t think people understood how my relationships with coaches evolved and how I got involved with Nike. That’s how it was with Jordan, that’s how it was with Kobe.”
“Sole Man” was co-directed by Jon Weinbach, president of Skydance Sports. Weinbach was also a producer on ESPN’s Emmy-winning series “The Last Dance,” which he did with Mandalay Pictures president Peter Guber, who will produce the upcoming film. Now they will team up again for another part of Jordan’s story.
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Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are preparing a movie about MJ and Nike