What’s up? I hope summer is treating you nicely and you are getting hold of some basketball action. I sure do and got busy on the Austrian Streetball Tour and the FIBA 3×3 Austrian Masters lately. So glad that basketball is (kinda) back 🙌. But now without further ado, let’s get down to the KICKZ Performance Review of Giannis’ second signature shoe, the Nike Zoom Freak 2.
The version I have in hand, is the “Naija” colorway, which is obviously inspired by Giannis’ Nigerian roots. Personally I really like the colors, prints and storytelling elements on this one. Like with the first ANTETOKOUNMPO, you can expect the Freak 2 to release in a multitude of color variations. So stay tuned, this is just the beginning. As good as this sounds, I was however really digging the reverse Swoosh on the Freak 1 and was hoping to see it return on this version. Well, that did not happen 😅. So not quite the eyecatcher that numero uno was, but that should not distract you from a solidly designed shoe, that also only weighs 363 g.
When it comes to the materials, “solid” is what comes to my mind first. They’re not necessarily the most premium ones but they get the job done. I have tested the Freak 1s in November and I think the current selection of materials feels way better. The textile that is used on most of the upper is soft, light and adjusts well to any movements. In the toe area, Nike reinforced parts of it with a layer of fuse to prevent it from tearing. Additionally, multiple panels of synthetic leather were added to give the shoe more structure and stability. Like I said, it works fine.
This was unfortunately my main concern. During my first run, no problems. After that, I more and more felt the grip giving in and I would be sliding out from time to time. Generally speaking, these did not have the hardest bite and I felt like they needed frequent wiping to maintain their grip. Yes, a bit annoying but if you’re fine with that, then you should be good to go. Overall, it was not so bad, to deem them unplayable but I have definitely had better experiences with tractions lately. The problems mostly occurred on rounded movements like curls but not so much on stop on a dime direction changes like crossovers or step-backs. Weird 🤷♂️.
Remember when Nike went with double stacked Zoom in the heel for the Freak 1? This time they completely turned that concept around and went with just one Zoom unit directly under the ball of the foot. I like it better this way, I would say. However, this is not necessarily the softest setup but you can for sure feel some bounce underneath your forefoot. For the rest of the midsole, Nike claims to have used “soft and lightweight” foam, which is obviously not very specific. But as I stated above, the shoe in general is a lightweight, so this should also be true for the foam. When it comes to the firmness though, I would not really describe it as soft. I mean, it never came to the point where I would think that landing is uncomfortable, but it was never the softest landing. So I would say impact protection is just about okay and so is the cushion setup as a whole. Court feel is solid though and you definitely feel quick on your feet.
I went true to size and this worked fairly well for me. No unnecessary dead space, just a little bit of snugness, which needed a little bit of break-in time to adjust. Apart from that, the shoe was quite comfortable. Especially the extra padding in the heel felt nice around the achilles area and took care of heel containment and lockdown.
Support was one of the more outstanding elements of this shoe. However remember, this is a low and if you are looking for something that provides feedback or even restrictions around your ankles, then this may not be the right choice for you. Just keep in mind, that these have a lot of the right features to actually provide good support though. The Freak 2 has an internal heel counter for lockdown, an outrigger to enhance the base for more stability and wings to keep you on the footbed during lateral movements. Really not too bad!
The Nike Zoom Freak 2 is definitely an upgrade over its predecessor and is a very solid performer in my opinion. At a price of roughly EUR 120,- this is a legit option from the mid-range price segment. While most of the features performed solidly, the traction is somewhat inconsistent and turned out to be my biggest concern. On the other hand though, support was unexpectedly good. With my lengthy history of ankle injuries, it‘s almost natural for me to have a very close look at this aspect when it comes to a low cut shoe. I almost always feel somewhat uncomfortable if a shoe does not wrap around my ankles. Luckily shoes like these make the adjustments easy, as I felt safe and stable all the time. Ultimately, I think the features and tech in these give you good value for the money. Considering that this is the reigning MVP‘s signature shoe and potentially the sneaker in which Giannis may hoist up Larry O-B in a couple of weeks, these really come at a good price.