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Converse DEFCON

Legendary Shoe Company Unveils This Season's Performance Line

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Converse DEFCON

Converse DEFCON

When I was a kid, Converse was the be-all, end-all of basketball shoes - just look at the lineup of all-stars and future hall-of-famers featured in this 1986 television spot for the Converse Weapon. (Admire the names - Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre, Bernard King and Larry Bird. Try to ignore their rapping. Can you imagine a similar group of stars in today's game all wearing the same shoe?)

The star power of Converse's star logo faded considerably in the late 80s and 90s, as the likes of Nike, Adidas and Reebok took over much of the NBA market. Kids today probably associate the brand - now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nike - with Chuck Taylors, which never go out of style. But Converse continues to produce high-end basketball shoes designed for performance as well as style.

High-Tech Materials

In the martial tradition of those legendary Weapons, Converse has dubbed one of their modern performance basketball shoes the "DEFCON" - a Defense Department abbreviation of "Defense readiness condition" that should be familiar to anyone that's ever seen the movie WarGames.

The first thing I noticed about my tester pair of DEFCONs is their weight... more specifically, the surprising lack thereof. They're very light, feeling more like running shoes than high-top basketball kicks. High-tech materials are a big reason why. Much of the DEFCON's upper is composed of a light but tough foam material. The foam is fairly rigid - which makes for a nice feeling of support around the ankles - but flexible enough to adjust to the shape of the wearer's foot.

The foam portion of the upper is also vented to allow for air flow.

The sole contains Converse's signature "Balls" technology - a series of urethane spheres in the heel - that provide energy return when jumping and landing and help to keep the foot stable when landing.

Fit and Feel

Wearing that much technology on the feet takes a little getting used to. I generally wear an 11.5 in athletic shoes, and I've never needed a wide fit... but the DEFCONs felt a little narrow to me, especially when I was sitting or driving. When standing or running - in other words, when my weight was on my feet - the foam portion of the upper seemed to expand a bit, which improved the feel considerably.

The foam upper also created a somewhat awkward feel when stopping and starting. The somewhat-rigid foam extends from the top and back of the shoes all the way forward to the lace holes; it is flexible, but not nearly as flexible as the human ankle joint. When I extended my foot or flexed at the toe, I could feel my heel pulling away from the sole. That gave the shoes a sort-of "ski boot" feel at times.

There's a good chance that both problems would be resolved with a little breaking in.


Like most of Converse's basketball shoes, the DEFCONs have a sleek, somewhat minimalist style that would transition pretty nicely from the gym or playground to casual wear. They are available in an array of colorways - the toe and tongue is a standard glossy black while the foam portion of the shoe comes in white (as with my tester pair), red, black, and two shades of blue.

Another option combines the black upper with accent colors in the sole, the lace eyes, and on the Converse logo. The latter version is being worn this season by guard Lou Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Price Comparison

The DEFCONs retail for around $90, and have been available for as little as $60-70 during Converse promotions... that's very reasonable for high-end basketball kicks.
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