When you think of Converse basketball, you think of Dr. J rocking the cradle against the Lakers in ‘83. Or Magic Johnson and Larry Bird going head-to-head throughout their careers. Converse is fundamentally rooted to the history of basketball and is largely responsible for where on-court footwear is today.
In an effort to re-enter the competitive space of performance-engineered basketball sneakers, Converse - with the help of rising star Kelly Oubre Jr. - have brought the All-Star Pro BB to market. At first glance, Oubre is not the type of player you expect to see waving the classic Converse banner. He’s flashy, he has tattoos, and he has a fiery personality fueled by a passion for the game.
But that just might be what makes this partnership work. Oubre is oft-regarded as one of the best dressed players in the Association, he impresses with his outfits as he arrives to the arena and hopes to do the same on the court with the help of Converse.
Citing creative freedom as one of the many reasons the Suns forward opted to sign with Converse, we have already seen the “Wave Papi” lace up Tsunami and Leopard-themed versions of the Pro BB.
With the 2019-20 NBA season kicking off, we sat down with Oubre to discuss his deal with Converse and where he hopes to see the brand grow. Check out the full interview below.
I want to start off with the history of Converse and I want to know how it feels to be representing such a historic and iconic brand?
It means everything to me because the lineage that the brand has. Obviously growing up, I'm a little younger, a lot younger than the Dr. J era, but he's been an icon for me from day one. So when Converse came to me kind of showing interest, it felt like home. To see everything formulate now, and just to be flying the flag, and kind of be in the new generation, it's been amazing so far.
What have some of your teammates said about you kind of representing a brand like Converse? What has the reception been?
I mean, everybody that sees me or knows how I move and or love to operate, they see it's different and guys have to respect that. I'm the only person flying the flag in the league right now as of now, which is dope. Guys respect that I'm the only person in my own line.
Like you said, it was a bit surprising for a sneaker media guys when it came out. Kelly Oubre to Converse, because like you said, your personality and your style doesn't exactly fit in with Converse, so I'm kind of curious how the partnership came to be.
Oh man. The whole sneaker free agency was was a whole process. But I sat down and met with a lot of prestigious brands and I heard their pitches, and Converse was the brand that fit me because they gave me some creative control in what I did. And it's been a seamless transition to to be able to help create and wear the shoes and actually play basketball in them, so it's been amazing.
How do you think Converse has done blending their rich heritage with kind of the new sneaker technology and the new styles of on-court shoes today?
Amazing. I just think that the whole Converse team pretty much literally knew what they were doing from the jump. The talk was that we're going to take our time getting back into basketball because we need to release some quality. At the time a lot of a lot of other brands were releasing back into basketball. But I just felt that this Converse was going to do it the right way because we already have the history behind it. We don't really need to prove ourselves to anybody. That's the one thing I love about it. So just the technology aspect, we can really get into the fine detail about how the shoe works and what the shoe brings about instead of just doing it for clout for real.
What are your thoughts on playing in the All Star Pro BB? How does it hold up?
Amazing. I feel like I'm walking on water. I feel like I'm walking on clouds. It's just been a great experience from first wearing the shoe to the prototypes of Pro BBs, getting blisters, and kind of going through that, it was just a great process, man, because I actually went through it, so yeah. Now it should be kind of part of the process of a shoe that nobody else has worn. I have to be comfortable in the shoe, because I'm actually wearing it. I'm the only one, so it kind of worked out too to my benefit, man. I've been loving the whole process.
You've mentioned a couple of times that you're the only guy carrying the flag right now, and you kind of take pride in that. Would you like to see some roster expansion?
For sure, man, but I would love to see people who make the Converse, but keep it original, keep it timeless. A lot of times the roster is everything, man, because we're the ones flying the ship, and Converse has done a really good job off the basketball court of signing people who resemble the brand even on the court. I just would like to see it continue to remain timeless because it's such a prestigious brand.
Any names you got your eye on?
Ah, nah man, I got to play against anybody coming up soon, so I'm not thinking about any other basketball players right now.
Obviously Converse is more than just a performance basketball company, how many pairs of Converse do you have in your collection right now?
Probably about 300 pairs to be honest with you.
Yeah. I can't fit shoes in my house.
I'm going to put you on the spot a little bit. Could you name a top five?
Comme des Garcon, the Soloist, I love the new Ambush collection that just came out. It's actually amazing, some fine leather. Four, I shall say obviously all the Golf le Fleur One Stars are my favorite. Tyler has done an amazing job of creating those Golf le Fleurs. I love those.
Before you signed with the brand, were you rocking Converse for lifestyle as well?
Of course. Yeah. I've always owned a pair of Converse. I was just wearing simple just Chuck Taylors, lows and highs.
So you kind of have a reputation of being a flashy guy. Everybody's always paying attention to what you're wearing, whether it be before the game, in the tunnel, off the court in general. Do you kind of feel a little bit of added pressure now to kind of make sure that you're always wearing something that can catch people's eye?
Heck no. I've been doing this my whole life, so now that people are starting to notice, nothing changes for me, man. I still have to go out there and play basketball. I can’t be the flyest dude in the NBA and not be excelling at hoops. Because that's not something I pride myself off of. I want to be an all around individual, four-dimensional player.