Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Academy Award winners for Good Will Hunting, are teaming up to produce a film about Nike’s efforts to sign a sneaker deal with Michael Jordan, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Former Nike CEO Sonny Vaccaro, who appeared on ESPN’s 2015 30-for-30 “Sole Man,” and Nike co-founder Phil Knight will be the main characters in the film.
It is said that Damon will play Vaccaro and Affleck will play Nate. Affleck and Damon won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting,” and the two collaborated on screenwriting and starred in 2021’s “The Last Duel.” Affleck, who will direct the film, also won the Academy Award for Best Picture as producer for “Argo.”
The film will focus on Nike’s efforts 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 was able to bend back for what was, at the time, a small shoe company and keep Jordan away from adidas, Reebok and Converse. By doing so, Vaccaro helped transform Nike, the relationship between the athlete and the brand, and the athletic shoe industry as a whole.
“Although I never imagined wearing (Nike) shoes, the creativity it brought me and education about what it is about, what I wear on my feet and how it improves my athletic ability made me happy, I am happy with this choice,” Jordan said in 2004.
In 2021, Yahoo! Finance magazine reported that Nike’s subsidiary Jordan Brand 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 go into the genesis of it all.
Vaccaro, now 82, helped make the athletic shoe industry what it is today by signing multi-million dollar deals to Nike like Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“I don’t think people understood how my career had developed,” Vaccaro told ESPN of “Sole Man” in 2015. “I wanted the public to know how sneaker marketing started. For better or worse, that’s what I am.” I don’t think people understood how my relationships with coaches developed and how I got involved with Nike. That’s how it was with Jordan, that’s how it was with Kobe.”
“The Lonely Man” was co-directed by John Weinbach, President of Skydance Sports. Weinbach was also a producer on the Emmy-winning ESPN series “The Last Dance,” which he performed with Mandalay Pictures president Peter Guber, who will produce the upcoming film. Now they will be collaborating again for another part of Jordan’s story.
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