With the All Star Pro BB, Converse is back in the basketball shoe game

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Converse is a big player in the casual shoe market with their insanely-popular Chuck Taylors, Jack Purcells and cross collaborations. For the most part, Converse isn’t a player when it comes to basketball shoes, but that hasn’t always the case. There was a time when Converse All-Stars were all over the NBA courts.

From Dominant to Bit Player

Converse was the shoe company in the 1970’s and 1980’s. There was no doubt that Converse shoes were the shoe of record of nearly every NBA superstar in that era.

We’re talking the same monopoly that Nike now has on the best players, Converse was the shoe choice of that decade; Cons had partnerships and were on the feet of players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dr. J, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguire, and Bernard King.

That’s until Michael Jordan teamed up with Nike for a historic and transformative partnership that forever changed basketball shoes. The Air Jordans popularity (and marketing campaign) coincided with Magic, Isiah and Bird leaving the league in the early 1990’s. When those superstars of the 1990’s retired, so did Converse’s leverage on the NBA and its players.

In the next couple decades, the company would attempt to get back onto NBA courts with little to moderate success, but never serious enough to make even a small dent in Nike’s growing market share. In the 1990’s Larry Johnson‘s “Grandmama” commercials were popular and gave Converse a heart beat, but since then only Dwyane Wade‘s partnership has registered on any scale. Even then, Wade ultimately left Converse for the Jordan Brand in 2009.

Though the company still put out basketball shoes, they focused on their Chuck Taylor lines and non-NBA collaborations even after Nike bought the company in 2003. The company hasn’t really done much in regards to the NBA, much less basketball, since 2012.

Converse Coming Back with the All Star Pro BB

In recent times, Converse has only halfheartedly attempted to break into the lucrative basketball shoe scene, but the company has been working behind the scenes on a new basketball prototype. First the company signed up-and-coming NBA player Kelly Oubre Jr. late last year and that was a definite sign that Converse was cooking something up.

Then late last week, Converse announced that they were coming back to the basketball court with the Converse All Star Pro BB, a slick high-tech basketball shoe with a name that is an extension on Converse’s popular Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes.

(the All Star Pro BB) is a dream project,” Thomas Bell, Sr., a senior innovator at Nike who worked on the latest Converse told GQ. ”Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure to deliver but the original Chuck… I can’t think of any other product we use on a daily basis that is 100-plus years old. As a designer you always want your product to have longevity. It’s quite impossible to do something like that.”

A lot of the company’s hopes to diversify and step onto the court is hinged on the All Star Pro BB’s success. The brand’s basketball program is re-entering the market and we’re excited as the company is.

Converse is such a unique American brand with so much heritage and history within the game of basketball.” said Eric Avar, VP of Global Design & Innovation/Creative Director at Nike. “We thought it was a very exciting opportunity to tap into that history but bring a modern twist to it.”

The Converse All-Star Pro BB is set to be released in May 2019 and will retail $140 in black and white colorways.

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