How Accurate Is The Movie ‘Air? Nike Insiders Give Mixed Reviews

How Accurate Is The Movie ‘Air? Nike Insiders Give Mixed Reviews

After Peter Moore and Rob Strasser left Nike in 1993. © Tim Jewett/oregonlive.com/TNS Peter Moore and Rob Strasser after leaving Nike in 1993.

Legendary basketball player Sonny Vaccaro suddenly becomes the protagonist of a feature film after 60 years of playing.

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's new film Air follows Vaccaro's efforts to help turn around struggling Nike with new shoes and a marketing campaign aimed at untested newcomer Michael Jordan.

The film, which premiered on Wednesday, is a testament to the 83-year-old, who has long felt he didn't get the credit he deserved for what he brought to Jordan and helped create one of the world's highest-profile sports marketing campaigns.

"I don't feel the need for excuses," Vaccaro said from his home in Palm Springs. "I just want someone to tell the truth."

Truth, of course, can be an elusive thing. Here in Oregon, the heart of the sneaker industry, the movie caused a sensation because something went wrong.

Damon stars as Suda Vaccaro, which premieres Wednesday. Ben Affleck stars as CEO Phil Knight, who must convince Vaccaro that Jordan can change Nike's fortunes forever.

Jason Bateman plays Rob Strasser, a senior Nike executive who takes Vaccaro's side after a series of problems. Viola Davis plays Deloris Jordan, Michael's mother, who convinces her reluctant son to sign with Nike.

It's a great theme for a great movie. It's about a group of entrepreneurs who are struggling to come up with a marketing plan. No guns, no superheroes, no murders, not even flesh-eating zombies.

However, there are some special effects, including an unusual attempt to have Mount Hood sprout from West Mountain instead of waterfalls.

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"Efir" was highly appreciated by many critics. One critic called it a "slam dunk". Others call it a "total slam dunk." Others said it was "not a slam dunk" but added that the film was "slam and well played".

Perhaps the best line comes from Original Movie's Jim Slotek, who gave the film a B-plus. Yes, Ben Affleck's juice is an ad. But damn, it's good advertising."

Some Nike fans are also insiders.

"I think it captures the passion and passion of Nike's early years," said Howard White, the company's basketball marketing manager at the time. "I think he can continue his magic for a few days."

White, played by Chris Tucker in the film, worked in Nike basketball marketing for decades.

Now about the error.

Perhaps most striking is Bateman's portrayal of Strasser as a meek drone. According to the film, Matt Damon's Vaccaro was supposed to bring Strasser to Jordan's project.

"It's a strange world of stress," said former Nike marketing manager Jeff Kramer, echoing the sentiments of most of the people interviewed for this article. It's a funny movie, but it's not reality."

In fact, Strasser was bold, loud and stubborn. And most of the industry insiders and observers interviewed for this article said Strasser was the driving force behind Jordan's campaign.

His widow J. An unofficial visit to North Carolina and Deloris Jordan's belief that Nike was the best fit for her son also went awry.

According to him, the visit was made by Rob Strasser.

The image of Peter Moore, the talented designer behind the famous Jumpman logo for Jordan products, also makes a lot of sense. He is known as a mad mad scientist. Actor Matthew Maher portrays Moore with inexplicable lips.

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Indeed, according to his old friend Rick Long, Moore was a born master constructor and a fine athlete. Moore spent hours on the golf course teaching Jordan the ins and outs of the game.

"They didn't try to authenticate these photos," Julie Strasser said.

Long-time, now-retired, Strasser and Moore are unique talents. Now both are dead.

"I am concerned that the historic success of the Jordan shoe was made possible by Rob and Peter," he said. “With Rob and Peter gone, Sonny is telling the story he wants to tell. It's great theater, but the truth gets a little hazy."

There is no doubt that Vaccaro played a role in Jordan's game. Clearly, Vaccaro was the first to recognize Jordan as a revolutionary talent. And he fought hard to convince Nike management.

But is he in charge of the campaign? Was he the one who entered his office with the knight without notice? Controversial

White urged people to relax and not treat Hawaii as a historical document.

"This film requires freedom and flexibility to tie the story together," he said.

The film ends with the Nike team finally getting their man.

But the happy ending hides a bitter rift between the characters in later years.

Just two years later, in 1987, there was no sign or warning that Strasser would leave Nike. Moore left soon after. They started their own consulting firm, Sports Inc.

Sports Inc. archrival Nike signed Adidas as a client, sparking a fierce city-to-city rivalry with its former partner in Beaverton.

Vaccaro lasted longer, breaking marketing deals with colleges and college coaches who used the Nike Swoosh everywhere in college sports. In 1990, he was named the strongest man in college sports by a sportswriter.

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But in 1991, Knight fired him. Vaccaro says he still doesn't know why.

Vaccaro remains a force in basketball. He advised former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon in his famous class action lawsuit against the NCAA. In 2014, a federal judge agreed with O'Bannon that the NCAA's ban on athletes violated federal antitrust laws by allowing college players to accept kickbacks without NCAA approval.

Vaccaro said that this was his greatest success.

As for the allegation of wrongdoing, Vaccaro denied it.

He recently spoke with the film's producer, Hollywood heavyweight Peter Goober.

According to him, when Vaccaro tried to raise some factual questions about the film, Guber leaned over and said, "Remember, Sony, this is not a documentary."

– Jeff Manning; jmanning@oregonian.com

© 2023 Avans Local Media LLC. Visit www.oregonlive.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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