Larry Bird, a legendary basketball player, left his mark on the game with his exceptional skills, fierce competitiveness, and remarkable career with the Boston Celtics.
While Bird’s prowess on the court was widely celebrated, his influence extended beyond the hardwood and into sneaker culture.
Throughout the years of his career, Bird had a strong association with Converse.
Yes, Converse once monopolized basketball sneakers in the NBA, and Bird’s partnership with the brand resulted in the creation of iconic basketball shoes.
In this article, let’s learn what sneakers Larry Bird wore in every game of his time that contributed to the popular “Rise and Fall of Converse.”
Larry Bird’s Entire History With Converse
Larry Bird, often called “Larry Legend,” achieved legendary status in basketball.
Bird was a basketball professional and stood among the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) all-time greats. Renowned for his time with the Boston Celtics, his legacy in the NBA was indeed undeniable.
He won 3 NBA championships with the Boston Celtics: in 1981, 1984, and 1986.
Throughout many NBA championships he won, Larry Legend had a strong association with Converse. Bird wore and endorsed iconic basketball shoes, helping the brand dominate the industry.
Bird and his partnership with Converse sneakers began in the late 1970s when he joined the Boston Celtics and never switched teams in his 13-year career.
Nonetheless, keep reading this article if you want to hear more about the magic sneakers he wore.
Bird’s journey with Converse started with the iconic Converse All-Star model.
Bird’s rise to the Hall of Famer in the late 1970s made him influential within and beyond the basketball court.
This shoe, commonly called the Chuck Taylor All-Star, is a Converse sneaker known for its timeless looks and versatility.
He wore this Chuck Taylor during his rookie season in the NBA in 1979.
Chuck Taylors are high-top shoes made of canvas and leather. It has a rubber sole and a vulcanized construction.
Bird’s association with the shoe propelled its popularity to new heights as fans sought to emulate their basketball player idol both on and off the court.
As Bird’s basketball magic flourished, so did his relationship with Converse.
In the year 1980, Converse introduced the Converse Pro, a high-top basketball shoe specifically designed for Bird.
With enhanced ankle support and cushioning, the Converse Pro catered to the rigorous demands of the game. When Bird wore them, it gave him the magic he needed to excel on the court and win his games.
It was made of leather and had a rubber sole.
Bird’s endorsement of the Pro further solidified Converse’s point or position as a dominant force in the basketball sneaker market.
When he wore these shoes, he started capturing the attention of a lot of fans and inspiring them to one day follow in his footsteps.
The Converse Pro was discontinued in 1984 and has led the shoe to become a collectible item. It was relaunched and is now available as a retro lifestyle shoe .
3. Converse StarTech (1985)
In 1985, Converse unveiled the Converse StarTech, a basketball shoe that showcased groundbreaking technological advancements.
The StarTech incorporated advanced features like a cushioned heel counter and a responsive midsole.
It has set new standards and represented a technological leap forward in sneaker design.
It was a high-top shoe that featured a new technology called “StarTech,” which was supposed to provide better support and stability for the feet of the player.
The StarTech system gave players up to 30% more support than traditional basketball sneakers. Like Adidas and Nike, it was one of the first basketball shoes to feature ankle support technology.
Nonetheless, Bird’s association with Converse StarTech symbolized his constant pursuit of excellence and willingness to learn and embrace innovative technology in his game and footwear.
The Converse Weapon, introduced in 1986, became an instant classic and a game-changer.
This iconic shoe was co-designed by Bird and his rival, Magic (from Los Angeles Lakers). It featured bold colors and a distinctive Chevron logo.
The Converse Weapon represented a fusion of style and performance, captivating fans and athletes alike.
This was one of the first basketball shoes to feature a sole herringbone pattern, offering enhanced court traction to a player.
Larry Bird wore a pair of Weapons during the 1986-1990 seasons, and he helped to make it one of the most popular basketball shoes of the era.
When Bird wore and endorsed the Weapon, it solidified its place in basketball lore and established it as a symbol of on-court dominance.
Larry Bird’s Commercial With Magic Johnson
The Lakers and Celtics were the two most dominant teams in the NBA in the 1980s. They faced each other in the NBA Finals three times during the decade, in 1984, 1985, and 1987.
In fact, every NBA Finals appearance by either team during that decade resulted in a matchup between the two rivals.
Since Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were already very popular stars then, Converse knew having the pair of them in a television commercial together would be a huge marketing coup.
Converse designed the 1986 Converse Weapon for Larry Bird and Magic Johnson (LA Lakers) – two of the NBA’s best-established players.
Magic Johnson was initially reluctant to do the commercial but was eventually persuaded. On the other hand, Bird insisted on filming the commercial in his hometown of French Lick, Indiana.
Converse agreed to film the television commercial in French Lick, which was a huge success.
The commercial solidified Bird and Magic Johnson’s prominence as NBA stars but also established friendship between the two stars.
Not just with Magic and Bird, but throughout the 1980s, Converse marketed the sneakers with endorsements from other NBA players.
Among them were Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons), James Worthy (Lakers), Charles Barkley (Philadelphia 76ers), and Kevin McHale (Celtics).
5. Converse ERX-400 (1988)
Larry Bird famously wore the Converse ERX-400 in 1988 when the Boston Celtics went up against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
He took a break from using the Converse Weapon.
By wearing the ERX-400, he helped propel this new basketball shoe from Converse into every spectators’ awareness.
6. Converse Conquest (1991 – 1992)
Despite nearing the end of his illustrious career, Larry Bird continued to endorse Converse and one day switched to the Converse Conquest line.
So what’s the last shoe you heard Larry Bird wear?
In 1991, Converse introduced the Converse Star Conquest, featuring a pair of performance-oriented sneakers designed for the modern basketball player.
Larry Bird wore them during his last few seasons in the NBA league.
The Converse Conquest was one of his last signature shoes, and it was well-received by fans and critics alike.
The shoe line represented a shift point in the Converse sneaker design.
What stood out in the design was the cushioning. The midsole was thicker than the basketball shoes from earlier years. This look and style was prominent in early 90s basketball shoes.
Bird’s signature shoes were a staple of the basketball shoe industry for over two decades.
During the 1970s and 80s decades, Converse dominated the NBA as the go-to basketball shoes.
However, by the mid-1980s, Converse’s market share was challenged by competition from brands like Nike and Adidas. This led to the day of the fall of Converse.
In the year 2003, Nike acquired Converse, providing a new chapter in Converse’s journey.
Nonetheless, Bird remained loyal to Converse throughout his career, even after the company lost its dominance in the basketball sneaker market.
Despite the fall of Converse as an NBA shoe, Bird proved to be a true ambassador for the brand in his years as an NBA player.