We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Is Michael Jordan in Air?

Ben Affleck's new sports movie focuses on the collaboration between the NBA all-star and Nike, but everybody wants to know - is Michael Jordan in Air?

Ben Affleck as Phil Knight in Air

Is Michael Jordan in Air? Ben Affleck’s newest directorial venture shines a spotlight on the struggling Nike company and their unprecedented partnership with then-NBA rookie Michael Jordan in 1984.

Starring Ben Affleck‘s long-time collaborator and friend, Matt Damon, the comedy movie lets us in on the innovative and unlikely creation of the Air Jordan shoe. And, being the latest addition in a long line of movies based on a true story, the film is filled to the brim with fascinating sports facts and references to Jordan’s rocketing success.

But with so many on-screen counterparts for real-life figures in the tale, and the film exploring the ideals and legacy of athletic sponsorships as a whole, audiences want to know if they can expect to see the basketball god himself make an appearance. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with the answer to your question: is Michael Jordan in Air?

Is Michael Jordan in Air?

The simple answer is: kind of. We see brief glimpses of the real-life Michael Jordan through archive footage, but technically, no, the real Michael is not in Air. 

We do, however, see a fictionalised version of the basketball legend in the drama movie. That said, Jordan’s on-screen counterpart is used sparingly. The most we are given of him is through over-the-shoulder shots, from behind, and through voiceover in a brief phone call at the film’s end. At no point is Jordan’s face shown on screen.

Is Michael Jordan in Air? Matt Damon and Viola Davis as Sonny and Deloris in Air

There are several moments of the real-life Michael, from game footage and newsreels, placed throughout the film and also during the end credits. The creative reasoning for this is actually pretty sound.

Penned in a director’s statement, Affleck explained: “His presence and influence is felt throughout the film, though we don’t see his face. Because he is such an icon – an undisputedly important and meaningful figure, someone everyone holds in such high esteem – we didn’t want to shatter the illusion, but rather let the audience invoke their own memories and experiences of what Michael Jordan means.”

It’s also worth noting that the film itself is more focused on the evolution of Air Jordan, rather than the career of Jordan himself. On top of this, the spotlight is given to the creative team at Nike and, more importantly, Michael’s mother Deloris (played by Viola Davis).

YouTube Thumbnail

During an Air press conference, Affleck also spoke about talking to Jordan in preparation for the film and how the conversation changed the scope of the story, noting:

“Initially, to be honest, I was going to have it be a story about Michael himself, saying ‘This is what I’m worth and this is what I deserve’,” he admitted. “I thought also his parents weren’t so much a part of the story, so I was trying to flesh that out, and he said, ‘My dad had the best personality in the world.’ …And he said, ‘You know, I didn’t want to go to [the Nike headquarters in] Portland. I would have signed my shoe rights away for life for a red Mercedes. My mom told me to go.'”

“When I saw how much he talked about his mother, and the regard and esteem in which he held her…There was this moment where I saw an awe, a reverence, and a respect, an admiration, love, when he talked about his mother. It just shocked me, and shame on me for not assuming this was the case,” Affleck noted. “But when I heard it, I realised right away that this was the story, and it’s a beautiful story, and it’s a story of Deloris Jordan and what she means to Michael.”

Want to be like Mike? Check out how you can watch Ben Affleck’s new movie now, and see what we thought with our Air review. Don’t forget to take note of all the other new movies coming out this year, as well as the best movies of all time.