The Nike Air Zoom Freak 1 is developed and designed to stand for what is the most important thing to Giannis Antetokounmpo: his family. Performance became then embodied by storytelling and design elements centered around his parents and his brothers and his love for the Nike Kobe Line.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is an NBA MVP known for his rangy movement: using space with great efficiency and his length to take defender's off of their position. With a mentality of taking it strong to the basket fitted with his excellent footwork and explosiveness, he often exploits his opponents. This could be a reason why he prefers the Nike Kobe Line that has a reputation of unrestrictive ankle motion and a snug fit that holds your feet down.
With that being said, the Nike Air Zoom Freak 1 in many ways reminded me of the Nike Kobe VI. The Nike Kobe VI am rated as one of the best performers on the court by many. The 3 key features of this model was a modified herringbone traction (multidirectional), Zoom Air in both the heel and forefoot and a 3-layer Flywire package upper.
As you could tell, the inspirations are found from the silhouette of the shoe to how the traction and cushioning is implemented. Given the price point of which it is to be sold, some “reductions” were made but that doesn’t really stop it from being a performer. Nevertheless, I do miss the forefoot Zoom Air.
As I proceed on to talk about the Performance of the Nike Air Zoom Freak 1, do note that this is based off after wearing them for 5 Weekly Pickup games of 2+ hours aka a total of estimated 12+ hours on a local Singapore outdoor court.
Starting off with Traction, the multidirectional pattern worked well from lateral strides of that crossover to that euro-step and as well the traditional needs of a sound defensive stance. The outsole was still gripey by the 5th Weekly Pickup game and only minimum sliding was felt. Biggest surprise was the rubber compound on this colorway was more durable then I had expected.
Next is the Fit & Support, the shoe is buttressed by an internal containment system helping to keep the foot in place, and lateral support in the form of a rubber clip that extends from the outsole up through the midsole. This setup though not exactly premium, gets the job done and those bands at the forefoot works similar to Flywire and locks your feet down at the forefoot area.
As I got to try them in store before buying, I realized a flaw in the upper design. The heel collar “drops” at an angle which unintentionally pushes your foot forward and locks you in very tightly. It is actually true to size in terms of the footbed however due to this aspect, you are highly recommended to go a half-size up or even a full size up if you have a wide foot.
I managed to go a half size up and they fitted perfectly and the shoe feels low to ground and flexible and forgiving to all sorts I movements I made on the court. The upper am also well padded and just really comfortable. All this adds up to providing you a great lockdown with enough support and a full range of motion. Moreover, that little additional outrigger helps to add to the stability for those lateral movements without being too exaggerated that it hinders that direct drive to the basket.
Lastly the Cushioning, honestly I have to admit that having been “taught” to switch to forefoot Zoom Air over the last 2 years by Nike over most of the Signature Lines, it was weird to not be able to feel a more responsive cushioning when you drive but I do give thanks to having that double-stacked (rectangular) Zoom Air in the heel. Being a player with bad knees and not a shooter, you will really appreciate the protection you get after those rebounds and layups.
As mentioned earlier, having no Zoom Air in the forefoot provides a much better court feel as it feels low to ground. Giannis love for the Kobe Line could be attributed to this very aspect: court feel over cushion. I have to agree that I take pleasure in playing in these and the main reason for having them now in my rotation.
Conclusion, donned in a “Photo Blue” base and embellished with gold accents, it’s clear to see that the palette used here draws from the Greek flag and its trim. This “GREECE” colorway which Giannis wore for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 is the only few colorway that has an all rubber outsole.
The shoe has great traction and a good foot lockdown when you get the size right which in my opinion will be half a size up. I couldn’t reiterate again how appreciative I am of how low to ground this shoe plays and the comfort of being able to move about due to the flexibility and forgiving “engineered mesh” like textile mesh upper.
Lastly the cushioning setup of a double stacked Zoom Air in the heel and injected Phylon for the rest of the midsole does play well for players from position 1 to 3, especially for the slashers who cuts in and attacks the basket. Those knees would really appreciate that “landing pillow” which helps to prolong your playing time for those pickup games on the hard court in Singapore.
I would definitely recommend the Zoom Freak 1 in “Greece” colorway if you are looking for an affordable pair which plays like the previous KOBE line and wanting a low to ground experience. The shoe is pretty much true to size and would provide a snug fit but if you are like me, wanting a bit of wiggle room, you will want to go a half size up. Definitely a great pair which has made its way into my current rotation.
Go get it at the KOTC King's Store like I did for a special price!