Nike took little time in ramping up the endorsement roster at newly-minted subsidiar Converse. In a move that signals its redoubled commitment to performance basketball, sports marketing and its authentic basketball heritage, Converse announced that it has signed five 2003 first-round NBA draftees in advance of the November 2003 launch of its patented ICON(TM) Performance System.

Converse, the brand that created the performance basketball category, reached multiyear agreements (terms undisclosed) with:

  • Chris Bosh — selected fourth overall by the Toronto Raptors,
  • Dwyane Wade — selected fifth overall by the Miami Heat,
  • Kirk Hinrich — selected seventh overall by the Chicago Bulls,
  • Mike Sweetney — selected ninth overall by the New York Knicks, and
  • Troy Bell — selected 16th overall by the Boston Celtics and
    immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Converse signed these athletes to represent the Freshman Class of Converse's, “The First School” of basketball, the foundation upon which the company's nearly 100-year basketball legacy is built. The newly signed athletes, who will play in the game's top markets, will wear Converse brand performance basketball shoes featuring its ICON technology and figure into the company's performance basketball marketing and product development initiatives.

To begin their rookie season, these athletes will play in and help to launch the new Converse Loaded Weapon, a thoroughly modernized version of Converse's legendary Weapon performance basketball shoe which was introduced in 1986 and has sold millions of pairs in nearly 100 countries. It builds upon the legacy of its namesake and is the first in a series of innovative performance basketball shoes “loaded” with the Converse ICON(TM) Performance System. ICON technology represents a dynamic system of integrated elements that are loaded under, around and next to the foot that emphasize ride and handling.

“Since the game's early days, Converse has represented the fundamentals, competitive play and team spirit — really, the soul and purity of the game,” said Jack Boys, Converse CEO. “These athletes share our vision. Beyond their impressive achievements, these are gritty, all around players whose athleticism, poise and team-first mentality are reminiscent of Converse's legendary roster of players who came before them.”

Converse's new, multitalented athletes bring proven track records to start their new NBA careers: Bosh arrives in Toronto after delivering an MVP career at Georgia Tech; Wade lands in Miami having set scoring records at Marquette; Hinrich starts in Chicago having led Kansas to back-to-back “Final Fours” in his last two years; Sweetney enters New York after becoming one of Georgetown's career all-time leading scorers; and Bell pulls into Memphis, Tenn., having completed his college career as Boston College's all-time leading scorer.

Converse's new players join highly regarded Ron Mercer, Andre Miller and Rodney Rogers as ambassadors of the Converse brand. Converse's active players collectively embody the talents and character of some of the game's all-time most respected athletes who played in Converse and continue to associate themselves with the brand, including Julius Erving (“Dr. J”), one of the game's all-time greatest players, and John Isaacs, of New York Renaissance fame.

With the rookie signings, “Converse's lineup now spans four generations of professional basketball players, epitomizing a whole new era of team play, innovation and creativity,” stated Boys.

Converse signed its agreements with the young players as its, “The First School,” marketing push gains momentum. The multifaceted (television, print and Web) campaign leverages Converse's authentic heritage of innovating performance footwear and its connections to the early days of the game. Its recent national television ad campaign “Invisible Game,” (available for download at, ran during the back-to-school period and will be followed in November with the nationwide ICON(TM) launch. Converse is a designer, distributor and marketer of high performance and casual athletic footwear and apparel for men, women and children.