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Larry Johnson led an eventful basketball career that began once he transferred to play for the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV and was selected first in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets in 1991. Converse jumped on the opportunity to sign the impactful Johnson who had earned iconic status after leading his college teams to back-to-back Final Four appearances and one championship in the process. The Cons Basketball line needed a jumpstart, and LJ was the perfect candidate.

Even more perfect was the ad campaign that launched LJ into pop culture history. Some genius at Converse decided to dress up Larry as a rhymin’ grandmother who dunked on chumps and the commercials remain chiseled into the brains of kids from that era. The commercials and posters featured LJ in the freshly conceived Aero Jams that featured dope colors along with a fresh mid-foot strap. The shoes would become a cult hit thanks to a great design, but LJ will forever be a legend thanks to playing the role of ‘Grandmama’ (the 4-point play was epic though) and helping to establish the fledgling Hornets as a legit NBA franchise. We can thank Nike for passing on Johnson when he left college as that resulted in him signing with Converse, but we can only hope to thank Nike for a proper retro since they have merged with Converse back in 2003.

Photography by Vince Sirico

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