Ben Affleck throws out a t-shirt to the crowd at a March 1, 2020 Lakers game. Mar 1, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Actor Ben Affleck throws t-shirts to the crowd during a time out in the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the April 5 release of Nike movie Air, director Ben Affleck is making the media rounds. And in a cover story from The Hollywood Reporter, he got talking about Michael Jordan and golf, and had some remarkable things to say.

Here’s the fuller context of that quote, from the THR piece:

How did you approach Michael Jordan about the story you’re telling in Air? Did you know each other?

I periodically play cards sometimes with Michael, and we’ve got mutual friends, and … None of it sounds good, OK? And it’s not like he’d be like, “Oh yeah, Ben’s my boy.” (Imitating Jordan’s voice.) He’d be like, “Yeah, I know him.” Jordan is — he’s a hero to me. And I know how important and meaningful a figure he is, in particular in the African American community. If you’re going to fuck around with talking about Michael Jordan, do it respectfully. Nobody’s asking you to do a hagiography, but get it fucking right. I’ve never known anybody with that kind of charisma and power who walks into a room and it just reverberates. And is it him or is it the way people treat him? Is it your memories of him? I don’t know, but it’s powerful. I said, “Please, can I come out?” And he was great. “Yeah, no problem. Come to the golf course.” Went out, met with him. I waited for him to finish playing. I don’t golf myself. Because I just feel like it eats people’s lives up.


I look at golf like meth. They have better teeth, but it doesn’t seem like people ever come out of that. Once they start golfing, you just don’t ever see them again. So anyway, I waited. I have to be very clear, this is not the authorized Michael Jordan story. He was not compensated in a way that would be appropriate if this were that. If you’re going to do a Michael Jordan story, they should back the fucking truck up. This was me saying, “Mike, I’m not going to make the movie if you’re not cool with something about it. I just won’t do it. I want to know what’s important to you.” He was very clear. He was the one who told me about [Nike executive] Howard White, who wasn’t in the original script, who’s played by Chris Tucker. And I said, “Any anecdotes about your dad?” And without going into any more detail, he actually talked about his mom, who wasn’t really in the script. That’s when I understood what the movie was. Talking to him about his mom was incredibly moving, and I realized, “Oh, this isn’t about Nike.”

There’s a lot of interesting other stuff in there, including how Jordan told Affleck to cast Viola Davis as his mother Delores, and how that led to a rewriting and expansion of that part (and to Davis agreeing to do it thanks to its importance to Jordan). And Affleck (seen above throwing a t-shirt to the crowd at a March 1, 2020 76ers-Lakers game) has quite a notable discussion of the Artists Equity company he started with Air star Matt Damon, and how that’s leading to them paying people who work on movies differently (scale in the case of flops, but profit participation in the case of successes). But the craziest part may be Affleck just absolutely unloading on golf without much provocation. Perhaps he and Colin Cowherd can bond over that:

Air will premiere in theaters on April 5, then be available on Prime Video after its theatrical run. There’s no word on if it also includes shots at golf.

[The Hollywood Reporter; photo from Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.