Throwback Thursday: ON CAMPUS is a continuing feature taking a look back at the kicks of a generation ago on the feet of some of college hoops’ top players at some of college hoops’ most powerful programs. Previously we’ve shown you shoes like the Converse Voltage, the Nike Shox BB4 and the Converse Star Tech. We’ve also focused on programs like the “Lethal Weapon 3” era at Georgia Tech,  Stacey Augmon/Larry Johnson era at UNLV, the University of Michigan, and Jason Gardner’s tenure at Arizona, 1999-2003. In this installment, we’ll examine one of THE most popular shoes of mid 80’s, the Converse Weapon.

A few weeks back we reviewed the Converse Star Tech and how it was their foray to combat the success of the Nike Dunk and their “Be True To Your School” marketing initiative in 1985. The Star Tech didn’t reach the success that Converse had hoped and needed an answer in 1986 and into 1987… and the Converse Weapon was just that answer.

North Carolina Team Exclusive Converse Weapon.
North Carolina Team Exclusive Converse Weapon.

Converse used a much better marketing strategy with the variety of colorways the shoe offered. They used a multi platform approach steeped in both the college AND pro games with similar colorways crossing over. The “Choose Your Weapon” campaign in the NBA focused on the hot names of the day: Magic, Bird, Zeke, McHale, Aguirre and Bernard King were just a few of the marquee players wearing colored Weapons. More NCAA teams included some of the hottest of the era chose their Weapons as well. There were actually 3 ideations of the “colored” Weapon:

  1. A solid colored upper most recognizable as the Larry Bird Weapon
  2. A solid colored upper with white on the medial and lateral sides of the upper
  3. A solid colored upper with white on the medial and lateral sided of the upper and a white toebox.

Each of these ideations would be represented in the college game.

Current Oklahoma City Thunder Coach Billy Donovan, Delray Brooks and their Providence Friars rode the Weapon, both high and low to the Final Four in 1987.


Vernon Carr of Michigan State and Harvey Grant of Oklahoma.


Nikita Wilson of LSU and Elliott Perry of (then) Memphis State.


J.R. Reid of North Carolina and Horace Grant of Clemson, Jeff Moore of Auburn and Derrick McKey and an unknown player of Alabama… (note the different toe box on each Clemson pair as well as the difference in each Alabama pair).


The Weapon lasted a good two seasons in the college game and with the significant crossover in the NBA, its exposure made it one of Converse’ most memorable silhouettes. Hell, even Kobe tested it out for a game…

Image via ClassicKicks.
Image via ClassicKicks.


When retroed properly, it still is a GREAT looking shoe today, almost 30 years later (well, at least that Lakers/Magic colorway is). Staying power. Few shoes have had that, and for that long. And while it hasn’t had the commercial success as the Air Jordan I, I’d put that colorway against it. Looked great then, looks great now…


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