Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were fierce competitors and budding rivals throughout their time in the NBA, yet there was one thing that brought them together in 1986 — the Converse Weapon. Both superstars added the sneaker to their arsenal and the results speak for themselves. Bird went on to win his third consecutive MVP in 1986, while Johnson won his first of three MVPs in 1987. Converse’s “Choose Your Weapon” campaign highlighted the battle between the two Weapon-wearing stars, bringing in in other greats like Isiah Thomas and Kevin McHale, who also sported the silhouette at the time.

Converse, with its superstar and style icon in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (SGA) continuing his meteoric rise in the NBA today, saw this year as the perfect opportunity to strike once again. Bringing back the Weapon 38 years after its original debut at NBA All-Star Weekend, the brand centered its moment around the All-Star festivities once again. With it taking place in Indianapolis this year, just a few hours from Bird’s hometown of French Lick, it served as the perfect opportunity for Converse to unpack its story once again.

Unveiling the “Create History, Not Hype” campaign with SGA shining bright in the spotlight, a modern rendition of Bird and Johnson’s dynamic was created. Trading in the jerseys and short-shorts of the ‘80s for contemporary streetwear, a distinct pivot in purpose is communicated. Just as the Chuck Taylor transitioned from on-court wear to becoming a go-to lifestyle sneaker adored by the masses, it’s been decades since the Weapon graced an NBA court and is one of many basketball shoes to find new life elsewhere.

“[The focus on history] is all about engaging with meaning and having substance behind each move, which for me leads to a greater sense of fulfillment in everything I do,” shared SGA when discussing the new campaign. It’s this mentality that brought the Weapon to life in the first place as designers in the ‘80s sought to perfect a sport-ready leather upper and iterated upon its Y-bar design that rests prominently below the ankle. While the sneaker is now a retro design, the Star Chevron logo still points forward, reminding the world of the innovation-oriented mindset that backed its introduction.

Preceding this return, the Weapon has been reissued and remixed before, with projects such as the Converse CX line’s re-crafting of it with a CX foam midsole in 2020 and Rick Owens’ TURBOWPN fusing Owens’ design language with the silhouette in 2021. fragment design and UNDEFEATED are two of several collaborators to then revisit the original Weapon’s shape in 2023, before it finally took center stage at All-Star Weekend this year.

Its original color arrangements of “Vintage White” and “Black/Natural Ivory” (Bird’s colorway of choice) have been reintroduced, setting the hype aside as the brand hones in on its legacy. As Converse builds a new foundation with the Weapon and SGA, he made note of what the brand’s history means to him. “No matter who you are, or where you are from, everyone has a pair.”

As he now sees the aspirations of his six-year-old self come true with his face appearing on billboards and his dominance in the league being asserted, he has realized that the sky’s the limit. This trajectory makes him a shoo-in for his own signature design, but before that possible chapter unfolds, he offered his creativity to the Weapon by designing his own PE. A plush upper and coarse rope laces host a crisp off-white as maroon and mustard detailing create impact at the collar and midfoot branding respectively. As someone who sees style as a feeling — “how you wake up in the morning, your attitude, your confidence, your swag,” — SGA’s take on the silhouette is unlike its many predecessors, bridging the gap between past and present as he and Converse once again ask you to “Choose Your Weapon.”

The Converse Weapon is available now in its “Vintage White” and “Black/Natural Ivory” colorways via Converse and select retailers worldwide at a price of $120 USD. Stay tuned for updates regarding the release of SGA’s PE as it is expected to debut later this year.

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