Name of new Converse sneaker creates a stink

Friday, September 26, 2003

The company that brought the world the original basketball sneaker has come up with a new one: "Loaded Weapon." What would Chuck Taylor think?

The name of the latest Converse sneaker is drawing criticism because of recent high-profile cases involving guns, murder and basketball players.

Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, was troubled by the name, especially in light of the fatal shooting this summer of Baylor's Patrick Dennehy.

"You're taking a violent theme and trying to sell it to kids," Haney said. "I'm sure these people are well-meaning, but I think it's a bad message in today's environment, a bad statement for the time in which we live.

"It's a pensive time reflecting on what's going on, and we're promoting a shoe called Loaded Weapon?"

The sneaker name also raises issues in the NBA, where several players have had run-ins with the law, sometimes involving firearms.

Former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams faces murder charges in a shooting, and Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was charged this summer with carrying a concealed weapon.

In 2002, Philadelphia star Allen Iverson was accused of waving a gun in a man's face but was later cleared. Iverson also pleaded no contest to a gun charge after a 1997 traffic stop.

The company had been struggling and was bought by Nike in July for $305 million. Converse still operates independently.

The new shoe, in stores in November, is the next generation of the "Weapon," which Converse released in 1981.

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