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What I Learned – Giannis Antetokounmpo: Nike unveils Zoom Freak 2 signature sneaker

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Nike has officially revealed Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo’s second signature sneaker, the Zoom Freak 2. The reigning MVP became Nike Basketball’s first European born and raised signature athlete last year and joined the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Paul George to have signature models. The Zoom Freak 1 quickly became a favorite for its fun themes such as paying homage to Antetokounmpo’s favorite movie, Coming to America.Much of the focus in Nike Basketball’s signature line history has always been the study of athlete’s movements. With Antetokounmpo being such a freak of nature, the brand tracked his steps and movement during Bucks games. They studied his stride in his Eurostep that has become one of his signature moves.“What Giannis does in space is directly connected to his body proportions,” says Ross Klein, Senior Creative Director for Nike Basketball. “What’s different about his movements is that he’s causing so much pressure when he hits those steps, like the Eurostep, that we need to help propel him and contain him further near the toe.”The Zoom Freak 2 connects back to Giannis’s roots in Nigeria. He made sure to celebrate his family within the shoe and tied them into the product in which Nike called it a “Creative Family Collective”. Joined by his brothers Thanasis (Bucks), Kostas (Lakers) and Alex (overseas), the four sat throughout meetings with Nike and all made decisions on the sneaker. On the shoe you can find nods to their parents, Charles and Veronica. On the sockline you will find the words, “I am my father’s legacy”, and on the traction is a print of their roots and Giannis’ journey to the NBA. “I am not gassing anything up at all. He is a joyful type of athlete to work with. So are his brothers,” says Klein. “What is so cool to me as a leader in basketball is that they are not following anything else. They are not seeing and saying we kind of want a little bit of this or that, they work within themselves to be creators and they are going off of this like there is nothing else in their life besides this and it is so refreshing. I think that makes the process of working with four people easier because they are all really at the same place. There is no differential components outside of them. The cool thing is for someone like Thanasis who we don’t talk about enough, but he is a crucial factor in all of this. Giannis and Thanasis go back and forth all the time but they are very authentic, and they don’t hide anything that they think and they are very nice people.” NikeAnother important factor in the shoe design was Kobe’s influence on Giannis. Antetokounmpo started his career wearing Kobe models and the Zoom Freak 1 design took inspiration from many of Bryant’s low-profile designs. Klein says he sees the similarities between the two friends who bonded when Bryant was alive.“I went back with Kobe since I was 15 or 16. Our schools played against each other. Kobe’s insight to the game was one that can probably never be duplicated. There is obviously a strong connection between Giannis and Kobe. They trained together. They knew each other. They believed in each other and they talked a lot. So when Giannis is going through his process in terms of design and talking about his style of play, it does remind of that spirit. Just a pure heart and driven to succeed, to win, being authentic and always thinking about performance at heart. Performance is key to making better product and Kobe was that and Giannis is that. Giannis says to people, ‘Do you really want it? Do you really want it?’ It’s a style that he wants to incorporate. He wants the most passionate people to work with. Kobe did the same. The green / white Naija colorway of the Zoom Freak 2 releases in North America July 25. 

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