- Where can you buy these? Amazon
- Best for: Maximum ankle support, speed
- Pros: They’re comfortable and roomy without sacrificing the foot and ankle security that so many sneakers lack. The lightweight frame and firm sole allow support for those big-time moves on the court (like Giannis’ Euro-step).
- Cons: They could provide a bit more room at the top of the ankle. New sneakers always pose the threat of growing pains the first few wears, and these are no different. When I wear them to play, my right sneaker feels tighter, even though I’ve tried tirelessly to tighten both feet evenly.
Why Trust Me?
As a former college basketball player and someone who has played the game for over three decades, I cannot overstate the importance of good sneakers. When you wear the same pair of sneakers for an entire college season (I played in a Division III school without a big-time sneaker budget), you form opinions about which sneakers just feel right (and some that definitely don’t).
My comprehensive review of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Nike Zoom Freak 2s will cover the ins and outs of one of the year’s best sneakers.
Reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year and MVP Giannis Antetokuonmpo is called The Freak for good reason. He plays at a speed and ferocity rarely seen in the league, and his movements are so complex that we knew his signature shoe would be unique. Nike sees in Giannis a new archetype for the modern athlete, which means the sneaker they created with him has to be fit for a Freak.
Innovative Build & Design
What I love about the shoe’s design is that it initially looks unassuming. Once you become acquainted with its nooks and crannies, however, you become impressed with all of the innovations Nike incorporated. Because of the combination of speed, quickness, and strength that Giannis plays the game with, his shoe needed to address many different aspects simultaneously—and they did just that.
They utilized an outrigger design on the sole, which forms a wider front section. An outrigger is the outside of the sneaker sole that protrudes out, giving the user a broader base. This allows for more stability and more explosivity. The sole balances firm and sturdy and doesn’t feel clumsy to wear. They also designed a more aerodynamic sneaker for speed.
The stitching and materials used in the Freak 2 are vast improvements from the first generation Freak 1s. The tongue gives even more foot support and rests snugly on the top of my feet without any real negative pressure. The small strap on the back of the sneaker offers a smidge more heel support, even though the rest of the sneaker doesn’t lack for it. I also love the vintage “Freak” logo on the tongue with modern style elements.
When I tried the Freak 2s on in the store, I immediately noticed how snug my entire foot felt in the shoe. My ankle was almost too tight for my comfort, something I worried about once I got on the court. However, any anxiety about ankle pain subsided after my first wear. The sneakers remained snug on my foot, but I had no problems after two hours of use.
The sneakers performed perfectly during my first time playing in them. I felt quick laterally (side to side) and didn’t lose any speed off my first step; they felt really lightweight on my feet. I could guard my opponent on one end of the court and run the fast break quicker on the other end. This speaks to the Freak 2’s diverse performance measures.
The shoes felt great on my feet and never hurt, even though I had my laces drawn tight. I like tight-fitting shoes, but this preference has led to my feet losing sensation in other sneakers during an intense workout. This is due not only to the build of the shoe but also in large part to the materials used.
The laces are high-quality and rest on a very sturdy yet cushy tongue that doesn’t choke my foot when tight. The biggest reason it feels so supportive without being restrictive? Its pressure is located on the ankle as opposed to where the laces tie. It may be unnoticeable to other sneaker wearers, but it was a huge selling point when I tried them on in the store.
Footwear has come a long way since I began playing in the late 80s. However, I was thoroughly impressed with how secure and comfortable my 38-year-old feet felt in the Freak 2s. They felt already broken in on my feet and didn’t cause any pain during or after playing.
I made sharp cuts on a dime because I had extra command of my direction. I felt confident in my movements; I never felt the sneakers give out around my feet and ankles. Because of my age, I usually get pretty sore after one to two hours of playing pick-up; I felt like I could have played longer while wearing the Freak 2 sneakers.
What I Like
I’ve almost always worn Nike shoes to play basketball because of their overall comfort, and the Freak 2s didn’t disappoint. My top praise is their fit around my feet and ankles. Being able to run up and down the court for two hours without any foot and ankle pain—at 38-years-old—makes me excited to play basketball again.
While they knock it out of the park with performance, the Freak 2s also look great on my feet. I was resigned to basketball sneakers being big and bulky. They have to be in order to support my feet and ankles through extreme movements on the court, right? But I was wrong. The Freak 2s look good on the court and off.
What I Don’t Like
I don’t have many complaints about these shoes. However, I’m old-school in one area: I feel like basketball sneakers are traditionally safer for your ankles the higher up they come. The Freak 2s do feel safe at their height, but nothing can save you from rolling your ankle—say, on the way down from a rebound or stepping on someone’s foot—better than higher coverage.
I could also understand if some people complain about tightness on the ankles. I experienced tightness in my right foot more than my left. After playing, I wondered if that uneven fit could contribute to soreness and potential rubbing along the ankle for some users. Nothing that some modifications in lacing up and tying your sneakers can’t fix, but it might be worrisome to hoopers with sensitive ankles.
For those looking at other options after reading this review, these three sneakers may be a great place to start:
- Paul George’s new signature shoe, the PG 4s, will give you the added ankle and foot support needed to rule the court without rolling an ankle. Their sole traction is great for sharp cuts on any type of court. Their special zip-up outside shell creates even more hold on your foot, and the price point can’t be beat for an impressive sneaker for any baller.
- The LeBron 18 shoe will knock your socks off with its beautiful colors, no matter which color pattern you choose. These sneakers are the traditional high top model I remember so fondly from my childhood before mids and lower-top sneakers were all the rage. You’ll wow the competition with their style and on-court performance.
- Steph Curry has come a long way with his signature sneaker that was once lauded as a “dad shoe.” The Curry 7s will add bounce to your game without sacrificing protection. Would Curry, a player with a long history of foot injuries, wear anything different?
Question 1: Are Freak 2s good for my 12-year-old son to wear?
Answer: These sneakers are ideal for younger hoopers because of their immense foot protection. Younger wearers rave about this style of sneaker and will turn heads both on the court and in the classroom.
Question 2: How is the sizing? Do they run big or small?
Answer: I have worn a size 12 since I was 16, and these sneakers fit my feet perfectly. While some may run into a size issue, they’re true to my foot size. I always recommend trying the sneakers out in a brick-and-mortar store before purchase.
I was thoroughly impressed by the Nike Zoom Freak 2 sneaker at first glance, after fitting them in the store, and then testing them out on the court several times. I’ve gone on tirelessly about the snug- yet-not-too-snug fit when I wear them and the confidence I have in making any move on the court while wearing them. They fall right in the lower-to-middle half of sneaker prices, which is welcome by people used to shelling out a minimum of $200 per pair.
If you’re someone who values their ankles while not wanting to lose your first step on the court, I suggest you try Nike’s Freak 2s on today!