Converse’s ‘Breaking Barriers’ Sneakers Honor The NBA’s Integration Pioneers

Converse’s historical relevance isn’t a secret. As one of the first-ever basketball-oriented sneakers, the brand’s All-Star platform boasts a significant lineage, adorning the feet of some of the sport’s most legendary figures. To honor its centurial past, the brand has announced a retrospective capsule filled with colors and styles from the golden age of basketball — focusing primarily on the individuals who stood to challenge the NBA’s bias toward skin color.

Within Converse’s “Breaking Down Barriers” Classics Collection, shoes paying homage to Chuck Cooper (one of the league’s first African-American players and the Boston Celtics’ 13th overall draft pick in 1950), Earl Lloyd (the first African-American to play in the NBA that same year under the Washington Capitals), and Nat Clifton (the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract with the New York Knickerbockers), make their debut. Each of the limited-edition shoes will arrive dressed in the colors of the player’s respective teams from the era — the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Washinton Capitols — with portions of the proceeds from sales going toward the American Heart Association, Chuck Cooper Foundation, and Earl Lloyd Foundation; all of which support their surrounding communities and serve to enrich the lives of at-risk youth. The collection is slated for release on January 23 via Converse’s website.

Learn More: Nike