Converse‘s latest footwear collection was made to honor basketball pioneers Chuck Cooper, Earl Lloyd and Nat Clifton, the trio who helped break down the NBA’s color barrier and integrate the league.
In April 1950, Charles “Chuck” Cooper became one of the first African-Americans to play in the NBA when he was selected 13 overall by the Boston Celtics during that year’s NBA draft. Cooper stayed with the team for four years before moving on to play for Fort Wayne Pistons to finish off his career. During this time he helped lead the team to a Western Division Championship title, as well as helping them advance to the NBA Finals.
Clifton, on the other hand, was the first African-American player to sign an NBA contract with the New York Knickerbockers. During his time with the Knicks he helped the team reach the NBA Finals and was named an NBA All-Star at the age of 34. His final season was played in Detroit during 1957-58.
Along with Cooper and Clifton, Lloyd became one of the first African-Americans to play in the league when he suited up with the Washington Capitols in October 1950. He went on to play for the Syracuse National and the Detroit Pistons.
Each of the aforementioned players will be honored with a limited edition colorway of the Chuck Taylor, the first performance hoops shoe, that are dressed in their respective first teams: the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Washington Capitols. Additionally the collection will include three Converse Pro Leathers repping the Knicks, Celtics and Pistons.
Converse‘s Breaking Down Barriers collection releases on January 23 at select House of Hoops, Foot Locker locations and Converse’s online store.