Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Air: Ben Affleck's 'Obvious' Reason For Not Showing Michael Jordan In The Film

In April, director and star Ben Affleck debuts "Air," a story about the iconic partnership between Nike and NBA legend Michael Jordan. In the film, viewers travel back to 1984, when Nike shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) sets out to have Jordan — a promising rookie at the time — sign a shoe endorsement deal. The former Chicago Bulls star is, obviously, a key player in the plotline of "Air." However, viewers see little of actor Damian Young, who portrays a young Jordan. According to Affleck, there's a good reason for his absence.

In an interview with "CBS Sunday Morning," Affleck said, "This is a movie about an icon, about somebody who's so meaningful that the minute I show you somebody and tell you, 'Hey, that's Michael Jordan,' you'll just go, 'No it isn't. I know what Michael Jordan is. Not only that, the only actor who could play Michael Jordan was a little old to play this part and we probably couldn't afford him. But the idea was if I show you something, you know that's not Michael Jordan and now everything else is fake."

While Young might not be featured in many "Air" scenes, the real-life, six-time NBA championship winner was heavily involved in the film's creation.

Michael Jordan had a few requests for Air

While Affleck felt passionate about making "Air," he refused to create the film without permission from Michael Jordan. In an interview with Variety, the director recalled a meeting he had with the NBA legend. Jordan outlined several musts for the flick: the inclusion of Jordan Brand vice president Howard White (Chris Tucker), and the casting of Viola Davis as his mother, Deloris Jordan, who was instrumental in his success. Affleck happily obliged both requests.

"Viola Davis is the best actor I've seen," Affleck said. "This is a hard business. It's hard to know if you're successful. It's hard to know if you've accomplished something. But honest to God, I always felt that if I was a director one day, and I had Viola Davis in a movie, that would really be something. That would mean the world to me. And it does."

As for Davis, she was thrilled to embody the woman who cheered on her son's dreams. She told USA Today, "People weren't allowed to dream because we weren't given any opportunities. This was a woman who did believe in education, but she believed in tapping into that opportunity that her son had in playing with the NBA and getting the utmost for this extraordinary human being."

"Air" debuts in theaters on April 5 and will hit Prime Video at a later date.