From an unassuming shoe, legends were made. Dr. J wore the Converse Pro Leather with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and a few years later a freshman named Mike Jordan wore a pair with a powder blue Star Chevron at the University of North Carolina. Now the heralded silhouette returns once again as part of Converse's First String program. Let's get into it.
1) HEY. THE PRO LEATHER HAS COME BACK A BUNCH OF TIMES, RIGHT? Yeah, it's one of Converse's most heralded silos — their first full-grain leather hoops shoe to feature the Star Chevron logo. Makes sense it would be a regular.
2) SO WHAT MAKES THIS RELEASE SO SPECIAL? A couple of things, actually. It's part of the First String program, which means it's a premium release. On top of that, fewer than 200 pairs of the white/navy joints will release at retail. And unlike previous retros, these are true to the originals.
3) WHEN DO THEY DROP? This Friday, August 5th. They'll be $90, which is more than Pro Leathers usually are, but still right around the same price as an in-line Air Force 1 low.
4) WHAT THE HECK IS THAT GOLD STAMP ON THE SIDE? Funny you should ask. When Doctor J was playing, his Pro Leathers had "DR. J" embossed on the lateral sides — it became his de facto signature shoe even though plenty of ABA and NBA cats wore them. This is the first time a to-the-public release has had "DR. J" embossed on them. Afro not included.
5) HOW GOOD WAS DR. J, REALLY? I MEAN, WOULD HE HAVE BEEN AN ALL-STAR TODAY? I believe this should answer your question. Bill Walton still has (non-acid) flashbacks.
6) AND WERE THE SHOES POPULAR BACK THEN? Hell yeah. Bobbito talks about them in Where'd You Get Those? and says the highs were the shoe of choice on New York City playgrounds around '80-81. That's the highest praise there is for a basketball shoe.
7) SO WAIT — IS THAT ALL? FEWER THAN 200 PAIRS? Well, there will be two other releases in September and November. TELL ME MORE. I will if you'll let me? These will be more "lifestyle" releases done up in Horween Chromexcel leather — the kind of leather that companies like Alden use on high-end boots and shoes. What that means is they'll last longer than you and age very nicely. A black pair drops in September, and a burgundy in November. That's a little wider, 360 pairs of each.
8) DID YOU EVER MENTION WHEN THE SHOE FIRST DROPPED? Oops, nope. Came out in 1976. They were around $35 back then and came in all sorts of crazy team colors, both high and low.
9) SO THIS PROBABLY ISN'T THE LAST WE'LL SEE OF THEM, HUH? No, probably not. Still, this is a good start, being the 35th anniversary of the shoe and all.
10) COOL. SO, WHAT DOES DOC THINK? We'll let him tell it: "It's flattering that the Converse Pro Leather shoe, one that has preceded so many other signature shoes, is so widely recognized as the ‘Dr. J’. I have so many memories wearing this shoe and am honored that it has stood the test of time and continues to live on."