Natasha Cloud of the WNBA champion Washington Mystics has always admired Converse sneakers. A native of Broomall, her father’s favorite player was Julius Erving, who was known to glide across the court in his Converse. Cloud’s father still wears a pair of black Converse to work every day.
Now, the former St. Joseph’s University star is making history and becoming a member of that same brand. She is the first woman to join Converse Hoops’ roster.
“I get choked up when I talk about it,” Cloud said of being the first female athlete to have an endorsement deal with Converse. “[Me and my dad’s] relationship is something that’s really important to me. It’s been something that has grounded me.”
“My dad cried when I told him I was the first female,” Cloud added.
Among other notable athletes, Cloud joins Kelly Oubre and Draymond Green as the biggest current basketball players signed by Converse. Erving, Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Dennis Rodman, and Kevin Johnson are some of the most prominent players who have been with the historic sneaker brand.
Nike has been Converse’s parent company since 2003. After taking a hiatus on making performance basketball shoes in 2012, Converse returned in 2019 with the All Star Pro BB.
Cloud’s style will mesh well with Converse. She prides herself on not being afraid to push boundaries.
“I get ready like two hours before I have to be at the gym because I have to make sure my outfit is on point,” Cloud said. “I’m super comfortable. You’ll see me around Delaware County probably wearing joggers, an oversized T-shirt with some Jordans or some Chucks [Converse’s iconic Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers]. But I’m not scared to push boundaries and tap into my feminine side and pop out.”
That same mindset carries over to the court, too.
Cloud prepped at Cardinal O’Hara, then went to Maryland for one year before transferring and playing three seasons at St. Joe’s. She was drafted by the Mystics in the second round, 15th overall in the 2015 draft.
Cloud was a key contributor when the Mystics won the WNBA title last October. She averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 assists in nine playoff games.
After winning the championship, Cloud had an opportunity to do a photoshoot for Converse. She kept in contact with Adrian Stelly, Converse’s director of sports marketing, while playing in China and wearing the All Star Pro BB’s. She eventually signed with Converse on Christmas Day.
“That was the best Christmas gift I could have gotten,” Cloud said.
Tattooed on Cloud’s left arm are the words “know your why.” Her platform has become a big part of her “why.” As a member of the Mystics and now Converse, she said that she won’t shy away from her platform. A recent example was when she wrote an article for The Players’ Tribune challenging athletes and others to not be silent about social injustices in America.
“People don’t really understand how important it is to be embraced by the brand that sponsors you,” Cloud said. “From Day 1, Converse has embraced me, regardless of being a female athlete.”
Cloud’s activism also extends into the streets of Philadelphia. She was spotted protesting racial injustices on Saturday.
It’s a platform that Cloud doesn’t take for granted. Her announcement with Converse was originally scheduled for June 1, but she didn’t want to take attention away from the bigger social issues. She’s so invested in being part of the change that she still feels a little bit of “guilt” for dropping the news today.
“If you are silent, you are a part of the problem and if you are neutral, you are choosing the side of the oppressor,” Cloud said on Monday’s Inquirer Live at Lunch about speaking up about social injustice. “If you’re silent at this point, you’re telling me you don’t care about my life as a black female, as a black American in this country.”
Cloud has been heavily involved at Converse. She’s had her hands on everything to help tell her story, but the family atmosphere is what makes it special, Cloud said.