Converse and Culture: Julius Irving’s basketball shoe added flavor to NBA in the 1970s

Julius Irving’s basketball shoe, the Converse Pro Leather, added flavor to NBA in the 1970s

Bell-bottoms, afros, jazz, soul, funk, disco, and the blues.

That’s what the average nightclub consisted of on a Saturday night in 1970. Dancing. Rhythm. Disco lights. But Julius Erving didn’t spend his weekends in a nightclub.

Most “DOCTORS” spend their time in hospitals caring for patients. But in 1970, Julius Erving was basketball, rhythm, and culture. And then, when the Converse Pro Leather’s released, Dr. J prescribed more medicine to defenders with high-flying dunks and smooth moves to the rim.

When Erving debuted the Converse Pro Leather in the 1970s, he was in the transitioning process from the ABA to a new league, the NBA. That’s when the Converse Pro Leather became the most popular basketball shoe. It was worn by several NBA legends. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. The list is endless. Dwyane Wade even had a pair in the early 2000s. So, how did the Converse Pro Leather mix with the funky sounds of the ’70s?

It all started with the original Chuck Taylor All-Star’s. That shoe paved the way for a new avenue of basketball footwear. Historically, the Chuck Taylor was the first basketball shoe designed for the game, then “Dr. J” released the exclusive Pro Leather. Shortly after, the Converse Pro Leather would begin to embolden the fashion culture on and off the court. In essence, it was a shoe that embodied aesthetics. Beauty on the court. Beauty off the court. Beauty for the culture.

That was the goal for Erving during the 1970s and throughout his iconic NBA career. Once it was made known that the Converse Pro Leather was a cultural shoe as opposed to just the normalized basketball shoe, the meaning began to take precedence among the basketball world. But in the fashion sense, it’s about having the hottest shoes on your feet.

Sneakers are a critical requirement in the fashion culture. A requirement that’s pervaded school hallways, college campuses, neighborhoods, and several other areas where fashion is deemed critical. But in 1970, fashion was inextricably linked with music. That’s when musicians started wearing the famous Converse Pro Leather, while also incorporating jazz, blues, soul, and funk into the style. The shoe then became a normalized style for street-wear. Originally made for the hardwood, the Converse Pro Leather redefined the fashion thoughts of many during the 1970s, and well into the 1980s.

It’s a shoe that fused music, beauty, and basketball into one nucleus. That wasn’t Dr. J’s goal initially, but after a few fancy lay-ups while gliding from the free-throw line; the Converse Pro Leather gave Julius Erving more credentials to his DOCTOR status on the court. In the end, basketball, fashion, and style all became best friends.

Converse. Culture. Beauty. Style. Fashion.

It may not be 1970, but it’s never too late to have a funky good time.

Dr. J was the first player to become a DOCTOR on the hardwood. He wasn’t the DOCTOR of jazz, funk, soul, and the blues. He was a basketball doctor. The one who prescribed you with different moves to the rim.

Next: NBA: Ranking the top 20 players that impact the game in non-scoring roles

Beauty on the court. Beauty off the court. Beauty for the culture.

A cultural shoe that was prescribed by the DOCTOR himself; Julius Erving.