Ben Affleck and Matt Damon will work together once again, this time on a movie set in the world of sports and sports business.
The pair will co-write (adapting an existing screenplay by Alex Convery) and star in a film about the early days of Nike, with Damon playing Sonny Vaccaro and Affleck playing Phil Knight. Affleck will also direct. The Hollywood Reporter has more details:
Damon will portray Vaccarro while Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight in a story around Nike’s longshot effort to sign rising superstar basketball player Michael Jordan to its shoe company in the mid-eighties, an endorsement that seemed impossible at the time but thanks to the maverick sneaker salesman, would become the most significant relationship between an athletic brand and an athlete. The deal launched the global, multi-billion-dollar contemporary sneaker industry and also helped the sport do the same.
If you’re wondering whether this means casting an actor to play perhaps the most famous athlete of all-time: nope. Jordan won’t be in the film.
The story will focus on Vaccarro’s relentless quest to sign Jordan to what was then the third place shoe company, a journey that took him to Jordan’s parents, and in particular his powerful, dynamic mother, as well as to former coaches, advisors, and friends. Jordan will be a mythic figure hovering above the movie and never seen, even as Vaccarro tries to reach him by gaining access to those close to him and around him.
The project has a connection to the Vaccaro-focused 30 for 30 documentary Sole Man as well:
Key in the proceedings is the 2015 ESPN 30 for 30 documentary titled Sole Man that centered on Vaccaro and his story. Skydance Sports president Jon Weinbach, who served alongside Mandalay chairman Guber as one of the producers of the Emmy-winning Jordan series The Last Dance, was integral in obtaining Vaccaro’s life rights.
It’s still very early in development, without a title or release date, and it could be a while before it gets made; according to IMDB Affleck has a pair of other announced directorial projects already in the works. But there’s no doubt it’s an appealing narrative; it’s hard to pick a sports business venture that had higher stakes or a bigger return for a company than this one, and the personal drama involved is also compelling.