Sunday, February 25, 2024

Grandmama - 90's NBA Marketing Genius?

If you were a fan of the NBA in the 90's, then you were exposed to a plethora of NBA stars and of course the products they endorsed. In a sports world seemingly dominated by the likes of Nike, Converse stepped up to the plate with their spokesman, Larry Johnson, forward of the Charlotte Hornets at the time. The Converse executives didn't just stop there however as they took it a step further. In their first commercial, Larry Johnson stated that you couldn't beat his Grandmama.

Long before Tyler Perry would unveil his Madea character, we had Larry Johnson and Grandmama. At the time there wasn't anything else like it on TV. The commercials stood out on TV and of course now in people's memories. Take a massive athlete like Larry and put him in a dress with pearls and a gray wig, playing basketball and you have the birth of a great marketing campaign. I would love to know who's idea this was and what was Larry's first reaction upon being introduced to it.

In 2024 do people still remember these Grandmama commercials? I don't follow the NBA like I used to, but I find these commericals to be just as hilarious now as I did then. I gotta say though I don't remember the last few that featured the Phoenix Sun's Kevin Johnson. None the less I loved watching Larry Johnson play, especially in those early years in Charlotte. While I have a good many 90's LJ cards in my Hornets collection, I never knew until recently that the card company Front Row manufactured a small 7 card set in 1993 that focused on the Grandmama character. I picked up a set not that long ago just out of sheer curiosity.


I absolutely love this set! I never cared that much for the various colligate sets that Front Row produced in the early 90's, but this set brings back so many memories. Each card shares the same overall design with the Converse logo in the upper left corner and a simple "Grandmama" in the upper left corner, while the Front Row basketball logo adorns the bottom right corner. The back of the cards give as a simple write up with the 7th card featuring a checklist on the back. For additional info you can check out the Trading Card Database listing for this set.

After I got into collecting baseball cards, it wasn't long before the NBA caught my attention with their cards. It was a great time to be a collector as all of the card manufactures of the time were releasing some great cards/sets. Discovering small sets like this 1993 Front Row Converse set makes collecting basketball cards fun again.


  1. I loved collecting Larry Johnson cards in the early 90's... and liked the Grandmama campaign. But I was more of a Nike guy... so I never owned a pair of his shoes. I'll have to track down one of these sets though.

    1. Check eBay, that's where I found it. The sealed set only set me back a few dollars.

  2. I remember the commercials well. Awesome set!