JR Rider’s worn Foamplosion selling on E-Bay

As a huge NBA memorabilia collector and equally huge fan of JR Rider, the chance to own the actual Converse sneakers that Rider wore when he won the NBA dunk contest and introduced to the majority of the world the East Bay Funk Dunk (he also did this dunk in the NCAA contest) was a big story for me.

After declaring himself the winner of the dunk contest on NBA draft night, the outspoken and exciting rookie backed up his words and beat Shawn Kemp and Robert Pack in the 1994 dunk contest while wearing the the “revolutionary Cons with React Juice” sneakers that some consider the original versions of the Nike Foamposite shoes.  The initial interesting things about the shoes are the hand written notes “RIP Rico” and “Hurley.”  I don’t know the story about RICO but “Hurley” was for fellow rookie Bobby Hurley who was recently injured in a career ending car accident.

More interesting about these shoes is the technology behind them that this Ebay seller feels is dangerous.  He even contacted Converse to voice his concerns and below is his email exchange with a Converse rep as well as his opinions about the shoe and technology.

From Ebay Seller Dr Ballgame


These Converse (subsidiary owned by Nike Corporation) “Cons with the React Juice” were promoted as the state-of-the-art technology in the mid-90s.  These pre-date the current parent-company Nike technology of “Foamposite” – I like to promote these as “Foamplosion” because the midsole magically exploded as if struck by lightning.

What’s the Difference between Pro-issued Shoes and the normal Consumer Market Models? (Be glad Converse/Nike doesn’t make airplanes)

These are the precise shoes that Converse “designed” to enhance the performance of and protect their sponsored professional athletes from injury (although Converse acknowledges now they had little reason for confidence in the materials used at that time, which Converse PR department now admits are not reliable).

Former NFL pros are suing over physiological damage from impacts to their heads. NBA players take far more impacts to their knees every game and it would be more comforting if the equipment companies like Converse (Nike-owned) designed products with more care and concern for both the professional athlete and the consumer.

Social Media this MF’in Listing to Friends 

I strongly encourage all of you to “share” this listing and photos in social media to alert friends (who collect sneakers) that the major companies do not have faith in the durability of the shoes they assign to pros – consequently, sneakers might not have any collectable value if the materials deteriorate so rapidly.

Moreover, Converse (Nike-owned) does not seem to care about consumers (given Converse Corporation’s complete rejection for compensation, despite their own acknowledgement of a vague recollection that their previous product lines were composed of unstable materials).

Included below: The text of actual email responses from Converse’s PR Department (as astounding as they seem) and my attempts to bring this matter to their attention (remember Converse is owned by Nike):

From: [Dr.Ballgame]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2012 5:20 PM
To: Converse Consumer Mailbox
Subject: following up on defective NBA JR Rider foam material

Consumer Group, Materials Engineering, Public Relations Departments:

I am following up on NBA JR Rider Converse “Cons with the React Juice” shoes with the defective foam material in the sub-sole. To reiterate, these were the shoes given/assigned directly to JR Rider or his staff personnel as a sponsored Converse athlete – both shoes signed (with additional inscriptions), rookie year, when he won the NBA dunk contest.

Please alert me to your next intended steps.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



—–Original Message—–
From: Converse Consumer Mailbox
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 2:37 PM
To: [Dr.Ballgame]
Subject: RE: following up on defective NBA JR Rider foam material

Hi [Dr.Ballgame],

I have spoken with many people around the building on this matter so we could all get to the bottom of this issue and figure out why this could have happened.

Luckily, one of our product developers got in touch with one of our archivists and he mentioned that he had heard of other similar instances where this had occurred on other footwear models (Converse and Nike) from the same era (mid 1990’s).

This phenomenon seems to be triggered by some specific combination of heat/humidity that causes the midsole foam to break-down, It is likely linked to the specific midsole foam formulas that were typically utilized by athletic footwear companies at that time. Note: the formulas being utilized on current midsoles are different.

Unfortunately, due to the age and condition of the sample (~20 years old) – there is not much that can be done to determine the actual cause of failure. There is no way to determine the actual composition of the foam, glue, components etc. in that specific model that may have trigged this rare and unfortunate event.

If you would like, I can set up a call where this can be explained over the phone to you as I do not have complete knowledge of this but the developer and archivist do.

Again, I want to apologize for your situation again and the time this has taken to respond, but we wanted to make sure we got you proper, and accurate information.

Please let me know if you want to pursuit with a phone call. A few of us are traveling this week, but we can certainly set something up next week.


[Converse Public Relations Rep]

From: [Dr.Ballgame]
Sent: within hours, same day, Monday, March 12, 2012
To: Converse Consumer Mailbox
Subject: RE: following up on defective NBA JR Rider foam material

“Hi [Converse Public Relations Rep],

I have never heard of such a thing happening to foam breakdown. Considering the huge number of shoe collectors, and the fact that older vintage model Nike Air Jordans on Ebay and in my possession, as well as NBA sponsor-issued Adidas to Nick Van Exel – ALL from same era – show no such signs of any breakdown.

Regardless of what your archivist alleges to remember, the general public will be shocked to learn that Converse issues shoes to its sponsored players that they admit are produced with faulty materials that are not proven to be durable or lasting. This should affect perceptions of athletes and collectors decisions about your corporate R&D and customer care.

Note: the “R.I.P Rico” notation on the pictured JR Rider shoes can be viewed in two basketball cards (Upper Deck #191, 197) as well as the TV telecast (whereas, all other cards do not show the inscription – reinforcing the proof that JR Rider wore these exact shoes during his winning dunk).

I do not find your response consolatory and I don’t expect that the sneaker collecting public will either… tell the “archivist” he can save his vague recollection and phone call. As I stated, the shoes were never subjected to anything but a climate-controlled closet. This is not a climate condition that should have triggered the foam to deteriorate – everyone stores collectable shoes this way. Please note that I gave you a fair chance to remedy this situation.

Wow, Nike owns Converse – you really put a lot on-the-line considering how many collectors will now second-guess their collector purchases knowing the admittedly unsure stability of your materials over time.



A few notes about PR:

· As a PR move, it is probably not best to voluntarily incriminate the products of your parent company as well (Nike owns Converse).
· Does Converse Corporation have an actual engineering department? Or do Asian factories just use whatever materials are convenient?
· Why would PR think the best approach would be to “ask around the building”?
· Why is an “archivist” the only person at Converse with a “fortunate” recollection about a product younger than one of its primary target markets?
· Isn’t an “archivist” just a glorified librarian for things that no one ever “checks out”?
· Why is a person who struggles with a 15-year product memory in charge of product archives?
· Would a major shoe company benefit from engineers with actual knowledge of materials and technology if they are supplying pricy equipment to both consumers and million-dollar athletes?
· The “assurance” that the materials used nowadays are “different” obviously doesn’t indicate that there has been anything tested or improved, just changed. So I can only conclude from this that Converse (Nike-owned) just keeps changing the formula “blindly” and uses everyone (consumers and athletes alike) as their test subjects. When it fails, just say “it’s different now”.

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