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Ben Affleck & Matt Damon Teaming for Film About Nike Landing Michael Jordan

One of the greatest stories in sports business history will be told by an A-list cast and crew. The Hollywood Reporter scoops that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reuniting (they just re-teamed on the script for Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel with co-writer Nicole Holofcener, in which they also starred in), this time to tackle one of the greatest sports marketing and business stories of all time. Affleck and Damon are teaming up to tell the true-life story of former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro for Amazon Studios and Skydance Sports, and are currently in the process of finalizing the deal. The story will be centered on Vaccaro’s energetic efforts to sign a young phenom by the name of Michael Jordan.

Affleck will serve as director, writer, co-star, and producer, with Damon co-writing, co-starring, and co-producing. They’ll be joined by producing partners Peter Guber and Jason Michael Berman from Mandalay Pictures.

So who will play who? Damon will take on the main role of Vaccaro while Affleck will portray Nike co-founder Phil Knight. The story is centered on how the then-fledgling little company managed to sign the man who would become the most recognizable athlete on the planet and the greatest basketball player of all time—Michael Jordan. (In HBO’s sensational new series Winning Time, about the rise of the Showtime era Los Angeles Lakers, a young Magic Johnson is courted by a young Phil Knight, but ultimately rebuffs him, and his promise of shares in the upstart company, in favor of signing with Converse—it was a billion-plus dollar whiff. Not that Magic didn’t prove to be a savvy businessman during and beyond his career).

At the time Vaccaro and Knight were trying to woo Jordan in the mid-eighties, it was an insane longshot. Jordan was a rising star, and Nike was barely on the map compared to giants in the industry like Converse and Adidas. Yet we know that Jordan ultimately did sign with Nike, and the deal became the most lucrative, game-changing relationship between an athlete and a brand in history. The relationship between Jordan and Nike helped launch a sneaker industry that has become a global colossus, and it supercharged the NBA’s image across the world.

Affleck and Damon’s film will be centered on Vaccaro’s tireless efforts to sign Jordan, which included courting Jordan’s influential, beloved mother Deloris. According to THR, Jordan himself will be “a mythic figure hovering above the movie and never seen, even as Vaccaro tries to reach him by gaining access to those close to him and around him.”

A major key to the film are two documentaries—ESPN’s 2015 30 for 30 documentary Sole Man, about Vaccaro, and Netflix’s sensational doc The Last Dance, which was centered on Jordan joining the Chicago Bulls and their reign of dominance that followed. Skydance Sports president Jon Weinbach produced The Last Dance alongside Mandalay chairman Peter Guber, and he helped obtain Vaccaro’s life rights.

The NBA has become an irresistible source of drama and intrigue for filmmakers, both on the doc side and in dramatic narrative. It’s why stars of Affleck and Damon’s caliber would court a film about a shoe company executive who sought to sign a transcendent athlete and ended up changing an entire sport and industry in the process.

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Featured image: DETROIT – 1989: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls drives to basket against the Detroit Pistons during the 1989 season NBA game in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Featured image: DETROIT – 1989: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls drives to basket against the Detroit Pistons during the 1989 season NBA game in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.

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