Prime Video’s biographical sports drama film, ‘Air,’ focuses on the events surrounding the inception of the iconic basketball shoe line, Air Jordan. Starring Matt Damon in the lead role, it follows Sonny Vaccaro as he tries to convince Nike to invest more money rather than shutting down their basketball division. His only chance at showing them the promise of basketball as the future is to get the rising star, Michael Jordan, to sign a contract with Nike.
Convincing Jordan’s agent and his family to get him to sign with Nike instead of more successful brands like Converse and Adidas requires all hands on deck. Howard White is one of the people who became heavily involved in bringing Jordan on board. If you want to know more about him, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Howard White?
Born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, Howard White was an accomplished basketball player of his time. He showed promise from a young age, and in his senior year of high school, he was scouted by top universities. He chose the University of Maryland and played for them as a Point Guard from 1970 to 1973. This is where he got the jersey with just an “H” on it instead of his full name. While he played for the team, Maryland won the NIT and had an NCAA Elite 8 appearance.
In the 1973 NBA Draft, he was selected in the 14th round by Washington Bullets. However, he had to quit playing professional basketball due to knee injuries. Following this, he served as a Maryland assistant coach, where he helped recruit Moses Malone. In 1978, he joined Nike as a Field Representative. In 1984, he helped land the deal between Michael Jordan and Nike. In 1991, he started coordinating all of Nike’s NBA operations. He became the company’s primary liaison with NBA and NFL players and helped secure collaboration with more talented players.
White was Nike’s Director of Athlete Relations and was eventually promoted to the Vice President of Jordan Brand. His illustrious work at Nike became an object of jealousy leading someone to suggest that White was engaged in industrial espionage. For this, he was investigated by the FBI. Despite the severity of the allegations, White remained a cool and calm person. According to his wife, he “never got really upset or angry” and forgave people when it was over. White remembers the incident as something that “gave [him] wings.”
Where is Howard White Now?
Howard White lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon, with his wife, Donna, and daughter, Mandy. He serves as the VP of the Jordan Brand at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton. He also founded Nike’s youth movement, ’ Believe to Achieve.’ He is the author of ‘Believe to Achieve: See the Invisible, Do the Impossible,’ which is “a handbook for all people who have a goal they don’t know how to reach or who want to help others discover their gift.”
In 2020, White was awarded the Maurice Lucas Foundation Enforcer Award for “his dedication to being a positive role model for children.” He has also been inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame of the Lower Virginia Peninsula. He is also a public speaker and motivates young people to pursue their dreams. He believes, “Each person has the right to be successful, and each person can be successful. Learning how to achieve is what is missing.”
White’s character in Ben Affleck’s ‘Air’ is played by Chris Tucker. While talking to the LA Times, Tucker revealed that his part in the movie wasn’t in the script, and he had to write his own lines. Luckily, he is friends with the man he was supposed to play. “I could not have done that without getting the information from Howard. He had me talk to people — childhood buddies from when they had played hopscotch, teachers, and basketball coaches. I put all this information together and wrote my part,” Tucker revealed, stating how he helped build his own character in the movie.
Read More: Sonny Vaccaro Now: Where is Ex-Nike Salesman Today?