Sneaker Spotlight: Converse Backjam

Larry Johnson aka Grandmama

Some might remember him as simply “LJ”, others can’t seem to forget the commercials that he made famous as “Grandmama”, but Larry Johnson’s time with the (then) Charlotte Hornets marked a time period where bright colors and wild images were dominating the market. Drafted out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Johnson made his mark at the collegiate level. He was an integral part of the “Runnin’ Rebels” team that made it all the way to the Final Four in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Featured on the premiere issue of SLAM Magazine (not sure if this should be excluded), Larry Johnson was a once Rookie of the Year in 1992 and two-time NBA All-Star throughout his professional career. The first five years of his career were some of his best statistically, averaging 22.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in 1993, the year of his first All-Star appearance. Playing alongside other great Hornet players such as Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, and Kendall Gill,  they lead their franchise to their first ever Playoff appearance. During that same 1993, Johnson also signed a contract with Converse. Becoming a face of their REACT line, he was given his first Signature kicks, the Converse Backjam.

Converse Backjam Mid uploaded by 4mosa

Converse Backjam Mid uploaded by 4mosa

The Converse Backjam initially came out in January 1994 and was part of an ad campaign that featured “Grandmama” wearing them while dunking on her victims. Shoes labeled so light and fast that his own grandma could take you to school, the commercial featured Johnson wearing a dress and throwing down some nasty dunks. The sneaker themselves features an ankle strap and the famous REACT gel heel that was supposed to help with impact and speed. A mainly black silhouette with light touches of purple, teal, and yellow did not make the sneakers standout. However, the kicks became more famous for the ads Converse were running throughout the mid-90’s. These were also retro’d in 2003 but did not keep the purple on the midsole. A fun pair that features a time capsule of life in the early 90’s, make sure to check these out and celebrate Johnson’s birthday on March 14th.

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