Here's How the Characters in the 'Air' Movie Compare to Their Real-Life Counterparts

Katherine Stinson - Author

Apr. 4 2023, Published 6:54 p.m. ET

A shot from the 'Air' trailer
Source: Amazon Studios

It's hard to imagine a time in sports history when Michael Jordan wasn't a basketball legend.

The movie Air tells the story of one man's mission to market a brand of Nike shoes based on a (then-unknown) Michael, who would become the face of Air Jordans.

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Given that Air the movie is based on a true story, how do the characters in Air compare to their real-life counterparts?

Check out the comparisons below!

Sonny Vaccaro is played by Matt Damon

Sonny Vaccaro and Matt Damon
Source: YouTube; Amazon Studios

Sonny is pictured circa 2001 (left)

Matt Damon plays Sonny Vaccaro, a former sports marketing executive who had the genius idea to sign Michael to his first-ever sneaker deal.

Sonny's story is the center of Air, as he bets his career on a life-changing gamble that ended up paying off!

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Phil Knight is played by Ben Affleck

Phil Knight is played by Ben Affleck
Source: Miramax; Amazon Studios

Phil is pictured circa 1997 (left)

Some guy named Ben Affleck (he also directed Air) plays Sonny's beleaguered Nike boss Phil Knight. It's understandable that Phil was a bit wary of Sonny's idea to bank Nike money on an unknown, given that Phil co-founded the famous shoe company! (He's a billionaire now, in case you were wondering.)

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Howard White is played by Chris Tucker

Howard White is played by Chris Tucker
Source: Instagram/@howardhwhite; Amazon Studios

Howard White is pictured in an undated photo (left)

Chris Tucker plays Howard White, a former NBA player and a Nike field representative at the time the iconic Jordan line was founded.

The real Howard is currently the vice president of the Jordan brand and also continues to work as a motivational speaker.

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Deloris Jordan is played by Viola Davis

The real Deloris Jordan and Viola Davis as Deloris in 'Air'
Source: Getty Images; Amazon Studios

Delores is pictured in 2009 (left)

EGOT winner Viola Davis plays Michael Jordan's mother Deloris, who is understandably skeptical in the Air trailer when a strange man shows up on her doorstep with a sneaker deal for her son.

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Rob Strasser is played by Jason Bateman

jason bateman plays rob strasser
Source: Twitter; Amazon Studios

Rob Strasser is pictured in an undated photo (left)

Rob Strasser passed away at the age of 46 of a heart attack, according to The New York Times, and Jason Bateman plays the former Nike executive in the Air movie.

Strasser would go on to leave Nike after the historic Jordan deal and work for Adidas before he died.

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George Raveling is played by Marlon Wayans

George Raveling is played by Marlon Wayans in Air
Source: YouTube; Amazon Studios

George Raveling is pictured in a still from an undated clip (left)

Bel-Air guest star and noted comedian Marlon Wayans plays George Raveling, a noted college basketball player and coach who would go on to be the first African American head basketball coach in the PAC-8, per the real George's LinkedIn page.

As the real George also notes on his Linkedin page, he was instrumental in the Nike deal with Michael Jordan, which is why he is included in the story for Air.

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James R. Jordan is played by Julius Tennon

Michael Jordan's father and the actor who plays him in 'Air,' Julius Tennon
Source: YouTube; Amazon Studios

James R. Jordan is pictured in a still from an undated clip (left)

Julius Tennon plays James R. Jordan, Michael Jordan's father, in the Air movie. Although Michael's dad was alive during the Nike deal and Michael's rise to basketball fame, James was murdered in 1993 while he was taking a nap in his car.

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Air the movie will release in theaters nationwide on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Because the film was made by Amazon Studios, Air will then go to Prime Video for streaming after its theatrical run.

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