“If you’re going to f— around with talking about Michael Jordan, do it respectfully,” said Affleck while discussing his upcoming film, “Air,” which centers on Jordan’s partnership with Nike.
Ben Affleck is opening up about his relationships with Michael Jordan … and golf.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor-director recalled approaching Jordan about his upcoming film “Air,” which tells the story of the “game-changing partnership” between the NBA icon and Nike, and the creation of the sneakers, Air Jordans.
Affleck, 50, said he reached out to Jordan, 60, who invited him out to a golf course. However, he admitted that he didn’t join in on playing a round of golf with the former professional athlete as he believes the sport is “like meth.”
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“I said, ‘Please, can I come out?’ And he was great,’” Affleck told THR. “[He said], ‘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,” he explained as he elaborated further on his thoughts on the sport. “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.”
The “Good Will Hunting” star went on to share more details from the conversation, also clarifying that “Air” is “not the authorized Michael Jordan story.”
“He was not compensated in a way that would be appropriate if this were that,” Affleck said. “If you’re going to do a Michael Jordan story, they should back the f—ing 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.’”
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Meanwhile, the Oscar winner revealed that he and Jordan knew each other beforehand, noting that they have “mutual friends” and “periodically play cards” together.
“None of it sounds good, OK? And it’s not like he’d be like, ‘Oh yeah, Ben’s my boy,’” Affleck shared. “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,” he continued. “If you’re going to f— around with talking about Michael Jordan, do it respectfully. Nobody’s asking you to do a hagiography, but get it f—ing 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.”
According to Amazon, “Air,” which is directed by Affleck, “reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand.”
The synopsis adds, “This moving story follows the career-defining gamble of an unconventional team with everything on the line, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows the worth of her son’s immense talent, and the basketball phenom who would become the greatest of all time.”
Damon stars as Nike executive Sonny Vacarro, while Affleck portrays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Viola Davis plays Jordan’s mother, Deloris, in the film.
“Air” marks Affleck and Damon’s ninth film together, and the first time the former has directed the latter in a project.
The movie also stars Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Marlon Wayans, Chris Tucker, Jay Mohr, and Julius Tennon, who is married to Davis in real life and stars as her husband and Jordan’s father, James Jordan, in the film.
“Air” shoots into theaters on April 5, before it will later land on Prime Video.