When an upstart rookie named Michael Jordan signed with Nike in the mid-1980s, sneaker history was made—a history whose reverberations are still being felt today, and which is so outsized that it even became the subject of a big-budget Hollywood fantasy starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. But while MJ was busy lacing up his new landmark Air Jordan, another much bigger sneaker was dominating the basketball landscape: the Converse Weapon, which became an instant phenomenon across the NBA when it launched in 1986. The sleek leather high-top sneaker was the shoe of choice for virtually every other major basketball star in the league at the time, from Isaiah Thomas and Kevin McHale to rivals Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
The ubiquity of the Weapon at the time has been eclipsed by the fame and notoriety of the Air Jordan, but serious sneaker fans know that Converse was the shoe to beat for years before MJ became a worldwide sensation. In fact, it’s easy to imagine the Weapon and its successors continuing to rule the league had Jordan himself not become the success he was destined to be, or if Nike had failed to convince the newly signed rookie to take a chance on their untested basketball division. The original ad campaign for the shoe boasted that “More and More of the NBA’s Big Guns Are Wielding a New Weapon,” showing off the brand’s lineup of endorsing stars, and there was good reason for the uniform support: the Weapon was a seriously impressive basketball sneaker.
Converse is finally bringing the Weapon back in all its former glory, returning the classic silhouette to its roots with its original material composition and familiar old-school colorways. To herald the return of this forgotten classic, Converse has recruited NBA All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to “usher in the next chapter of the storied silhouette’s legacy,” according to the brand. Shai’s in the middle of an unbelievable season with the overperforming Oklahoma City Thunder and is one of the frontrunners of the year’s MVP race—an incredible accomplishment by any measure. He’s also far and away the best-dressed star in the league, so he’s bringing a metric ton of sartorial credibility to a sneaker campaign few saw coming.