Michael Jordan Turned Down Idris Elba’s Request to Play Him in a Biopic

It would be nothing short of an incredible honor for many people to be portrayed by an actor as popular and talented as Idris Elba, but it’s not something Michael Jordan wants for himself. Jordan, still considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time, certainly has an incredible life story. There have been documentaries chronicling the rise of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, but fans have not yet been treated to a proper biopic.

Apparently, that’s not due to a lack of interest from anyone in Hollywood, but something that Jordan himself is not interested in. Recently, Elba appeared on Complex’s “Sneaker Shopping” podcast and had some interesting information to share about one big role he had failed to attain. The Luther star felt very inspired to play Jordan in a movie, and he even got the chance to personally pitch the potential casting to play the NBA icon. That’s when the wind was taken out of Elba’s sails a bit as Jordan was quick to shut down that notion.


“I even said to him one time, ‘I want to play you,'” Elba explains. “He was like, ‘Hm, I’m not ready yet.’ That’s what he said, ‘I’m not ready yet.’ … I was dead serious.”

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Noting how he was more impressed with Jordan’s life outside of the court, Elba added, “In my head, playing Jordan wouldn’t be about playing the basketball player; it was about the businessman. He is a very astute businessman, really smart. And his work as a philanthropist is, like, unspoken, but people don’t understand the work. He cares; he does a lot of work. So that’s where I was hinting at. I wanna play Jordan – I’m doing that. He was like, ‘Ah, I’m not ready for that story yet.’”

Related: Matt Damon & Ben Affleck Team Up for Film About Michael Jordan’s Nike Deal

A Movie That’s Sort-Of About Michael Jordan Is Happening

Michael Jordan prefers to stick with documentaries at this time, but there is an upcoming movie that delves a bit into his story. In April, it was revealed that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are reuniting to develop a movie based on Jordan’s endorsement deal with Nike. Jordan won’t be the main focus of the film as it will primarily follows Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro in his quest to sign the then-rising basketball star in the early 1980s.

Damon will be playing Vaccaro while Affleck plays Nike co-founder Phil Knight. Both are also writing and producing the film with Affleck serving as director. It doesn’t appear that anyone will be playing Jordan as it sounds like he will mostly be alluded to but not actually shown.

“The story will focus on Vaccaro’s relentless quest to sign Jordan to what was then the third-place shoe company, a journey that took him to Jordan’s parents, and in particular, his powerful, dynamic mother, as well as to former coaches, advisors, and friends,” a plot synopsis reads. “Jordan will be a mythic figure hovering above the movie and never seen, even as Vaccaro tries to reach him by gaining access to those close to him and around him.”

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