Giannis finally confirmed his spot among the superstars of the league and here we are with his first signature. Today, I’m bringing you my Nike Zoom Freak 1 review.
On paper, this seems like a very promising package for those who are looking for a new hoop shoe at an affordable price. We’ll be evaluating the shoe’s comfort & performance aspects, examine the value for the price, and decide to whom the shoe is best for.
Signature or not, it’s still just a shoe, so let’s find out if The Greek Freak’s first product is a success…
Model: Nike Zoom Freak 1
Weight: 12.6 oz / 357 g. (size 10)
Retail Price: $120
Cushion: Double-stacked heel Zoom Air & Phylon midsole
Best Offer On: Amazon
I. COMFORT & FIT
The Zoom Freak 1 was kind of a nightmare for the first 3-5 days for me but that’s mainly due to my huge a** wide feet. The shoe’s upper isn’t the thickest or with the most structure, so for regular/narrow footers, you should be accustomed to the fit fully in just a couple of days, probably.
Despite the fact I had a prolonged break-in period, the shoe does fit true to size but it’s got a very tight and contained fit other than a more roomy one. This will come down to personal preference – if you like very snug, secure, and tight fits with your basketball shoes, then go true to size and forget about it.
On the other hand, if you’d like to have just a bit of room for your foot, consider going up half a size.
The Zoom Freak 1 is surely a comfortable shoe. There are no crazy amounts of internal padding, there’s no super premium & silky soft upper present either but the shoe ticks all the critical boxes in terms of fit and provides a comfortable, distraction-free experience.
I loved how your foot sits inside the footbed, how nicely my heel was locked in and the overall containment was super on point, despite the shoe being pretty flimsy and not that structured overall.
It’s a very light and secure experience – and those two words mesh extremely nicely with one another if done right. Not the most comfortable shoe I’ve worn ever but it gets the job done – it gives you what you need on the court other than what you’d like to have, such as that premium feel or super-soft internals like on a D Rose 6, etc.
Before I get into traction, I just want to mention that different colorways of the shoe come in different outsole options – most of the colors will offer the half translucent, half solid rubber option, while a few colorways still offer a fully solid rubber outsole option. I happened to have the hyper royal/blue colorway which has solid rubber all throughout the outsole, and it performs pretty well.
No classic herringbone for the Freak 1 but the shoe gripped the floor pretty well. It’s not some extremely aggressive bite you’d find on a Dame 5 but I never hesitated to perform a movement because of it. The rose-shaped portions of the pattern seem to collect dust at a very fast rate, so playing on dirtier floors will cause these to pile up debris quickly, requiring you to wipe them constantly.
If you can live past that and do a quick wipe or two every few plays on dirty courts or outdoors, then you’re good to go.
This is one of those cases where the traction pattern has storytelling elements to it which may or may not had an effect on the shoe’s traction. I’m usually not a fan of this – there’s a time and place to show off your heritage or tell a story but I think the outsole is not one of those places.
Traction has to be straight up traction – if storytelling gets into the way of implementing an effective traction pattern, I don’t think performance and things that aren’t related to performance shouldn’t be mixed together.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally not hating on Giannis’s intent to tell a story – I think the concept of the idea is great but brands should really reconsider where to put that stuff to not intrude with the sole purpose of a basketball shoe – and that is to provide competent performance on the court.
As for outdoor play, the rubber on these doesn’t look too shallow, nor does it look super durable or thick. It’s still considered an indoor shoe but I’ve seen worse rubber on a shoe before – I think you could take these outdoors for a while, though don’t expect Dame 3 level durability of the outsole.
Lastly, try your best to get the solid rubber version of the shoe – I’ve heard that the translucent options perform slightly worse.
Despite Giannis being a big man, the shoe has a pretty uncharacteristic cushion setup – we’ve got double-stacked rectangle Zoom Air units in the heel and a Phylon midsole throughout. So virtually nothing in the forefoot. Strange.
The setup feels like a low profile guard’s shoe – even the double units in the heel don’t feel that awesome – yes, there is impact protection there and you do feel the give of the units a tad bit but by far not as much as how cool Nikey’s “2 Zoom Air units under the heel stacked on top of each other” claim sounds on paper.
Yes, you will have some impact protection, no matter the player – you won’t bust your knees out in the shoe, it’s just that you won’t really feel any energy return or bounce under your feet.
I’m not personally a huge fan of these super responsive and firm setups as I like to play above the rim, drive to the hoop a lot, so I do need more cushion in general. I’m also not a huge fan of shoes that feel dead in the forefoot area. I personally think that even for a light & quick guard, the forefoot section shouldn’t feel completely dead but hey, that’s coming from a guy who also has his own preferences.
If you’re a fan of ultra-quick, court feel oriented rides – the Zoom Freak 1 is for you.
I’m not here to judge or question Giannis’s performance preferences – I suppose he prefers a lower to the ground setup with court feel and responsiveness as the primary focus. So, if you’ve found the shoe expecting it to supplement a big man’s game, that’s not really the case. For a guard or a shooter though – it’s a solid setup.
The story is the same for the support department – if you’re expecting tank-like support for a big man, you’ve come to the wrong place. The shoe is supportive, let’s not get that wrong but not as supportive or reinforced as you’d think for someone like the Greek Freak himself.
Still though, we got most essential pieces of adequate support in place – a flat base of the shoe, a very snug and secure fit, small outriggers for lateral coverage, and your foot sits deep inside the footbed, which promotes more stability and better adaptability to your foot’s natural movements.
For how light, mobile, flexible, and just responsive the shoe feels and plays – I must give credit to Nike and Giannis for balancing the shoe out beautifully. It’s one of the lightest shoes I’ve tried in a while, the lack of a proper midfoot shank makes the upper extremely flexible to a point where you can bend the shoe in half FULLY, but it still feels supportive and competent for most players.
I’d probably go for something with a bit more structure, less flex, and better lateral protection if I was a big man but for others, I think the Freak 1 provides everything you need without taking away mobility or adding ounces of extra weight.
V. BUILD & MATERIALS
The shoe’s upper isn’t much coming from a signature – it’s just a textile/mesh with some Fuse for durability. Sure, it’s nothing premium or super comfortable but performance-wise, it delivers.
This textile will break in very quickly for you, ventilation isn’t the most terrible and they’re definitely durable. Keep in mind it’s a $120 signature, so don’t expect Primeknit or Performance Woven type stuff. For the give price tag though, the shoe has got you covered in terms of overall comfort and durability.
I wouldn’t put these in an outdoor rotation for long though – it’s still just textile with Fuse in some areas and considering how much this upper can flex, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start showing signs of wear and tear quickly.
For indoor play with a few outdoor games here and there, I think you should be fine.
The Nike Zoom Freak 1 likely won’t be in people’s top 5 best ever lists but it’s a solid shoe for a solid price nonetheless. Some people might have expected a true big man’s shoe with tons of cushion and support but for those, I’d say look into a LeBron 17 or an AJ XXXIV.
For a guard or a spot-up shooter though, the shoe is more than capable of delivering solid performance. Just make sure you’re playing on a good court, or be prepared to get into the wiping game like never before.
Why Amazon? Click to find out!
I’ve been ordering a solid 70%-80% of my hoop shoes from Amazon and can confidently say it’s almost always the most trustworthy and convenient option to buy your shoes.
Yes, it’s great to find the shoe you’re looking for on an original retailer such as Nike or Adidas but the reality is a bit different – a lot of times, especially for shoes older than 1-2 years, it’s a very small chance you’ll find the shoe or better yet find it in your size & color.
You’ll mostly find the latest releases directly from the brand’s store but the period is usually pretty short until they’re out of stock.
This is where Amazon comes in.
Amazon is not strictly one retailer giving you the products, it’s a whole chain of thousands of different sellers, all supplying different products, including basketball shoes. You will mostly find more color and size options on Amazon for your desired shoe than on an original retailer or even a general sporting goods store.
Sure, there will be exceptions where Amazon won’t have a particular shoe but that’s on the rare side.
And the best part is the pricing – you can find older shoes and at times new shoes priced under retail, sometimes at crazy low prices, which is something you’ll never see on Nike.com, adidas.com, and other retailers (except during discounts/sales of course).
To sum things up and give you a generalized idea of why Amazon beats other stores more often than not, I’ve compiled a shortlist of the most notable advantages the massive store chain has over its competitors.
- Usually, higher stock, size & color/edition availability compared to other stores
- Blazing fast shipping times (sometimes delivered the SAME DAY if you’re close to the seller’s stock)
- A good chance to find shoes priced under retail
- Extremely convenient return/refund policies
Still not sure? I’ve made a comprehensive guide and compiled some general tips on where to buy basketball shoes online. Check it HERE!
Comfort Rating: 8
Performance Rating: 8
Value for the Price Rating: 8
Suitable for Outdoors: questionable
Recommended for: 1-3 positions | shooters | low to the ground players
Overall Rating: 8
Alright, that’s it for the Nike Zoom Freak 1 review! I hope you had a blast and found it helpful!
The Zoom Freak 2 is out and it’s seemingly a direct improvement over the first! I’ve put it to the test, so click here to check out the review and see how it stacks up.
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, perhaps you want to share your own experience,