NBA

How Awesome is Giannis Antetokounmpo’s New Nike Shoe?

Coming off an MVP season, it is only right that Giannis Antetokounmpo has his first sneaker hitting the market. The Zoom Freak 1, which was in design for over a year before he won the award, lets Giannis join the company of LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and countless other superstars who joined the shoe gang. These aren’t your ordinary shoes, however. They tell a story that some may miss without some context. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s favorite movie

According to Nike vice president of basketball footwear Kevin Dodson, Giannis came into the design phase talking about his favorite movie, ‘The Prince Akeem movie.’ After some extrapolation, they figured out that the basketball superstar was talking about the Eddie Murphy classic Coming to America. Dodson learned that people in Giannis’s circle don’t call it that, but the conversation helped kick off the design phase of the shoe. 

Fast forward to today, and the movie-inspired shoe is ready to hit the market. With Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem in mind, Nike used imagery from the movie to add some character to the sneaker, adding gold into the design and mimicking the animal prints that Murphy wears throughout the film. 

Branding for Antetokounmpo’s shoe

It’s not the first time that a movie has inspired a high-profile shoe. LeBron famously put out a Space Jam inspired shoe leading into the production of the sequel that he is going to star in. Nike has also put out shoes inspired by the classic eighties film Back to the Future Part II. With sports and shoes becoming increasingly intertwined, it makes sense that Hollywood is getting in on it too. 

The branding associated with Coming to America did not end with the subtleties of the shoes. Those who looked at the shoes might not even catch the references to Giannis’s favorite films. To help drive this point into the ground, Nike made Coming to America part of its ad campaign, inserting Giannis into a recreation of the film’s poster. 

Why this movie?

If one knows the story of Giannis Antetokounmpo, it could make perfect sense why he gravitated toward the movie, especially after he came over to America to pursue his NBA dreams. The film tells the story of Akeem, a prince who comes to America and gets used to the American ways of doing things. He is used to having all the riches in the world, but he lives a normal life after his journey to find true love in the States. 

In some ways, some could say it is a similar, but opposite approach to Giannis’s tale. Giannis came from relative obscurity in Greece only to strike it rich when he got to America. The parallels, however, are unquestionable, and now they have been immortalized in the shoe that bears his name. 

Doubling Down

Giannis Antetokounmpo has a new Nike shoe coming out that has ties to a classic 1980s movie.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has a new Nike shoe themed on the 1980s movie Coming to America. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Although the Zoom Freak 1s are the only officially announced model of the shoe, Nike teased the fact it will step deeper into the waters of the movie. A planned Soul Glo colorway could come to stores, a reference to a product and commercial that exist inside the movie. Whether this becomes a running theme for the sneaker remains to be seen. With a sequel coming next year, there could be more she fodder for Giannis Antetokounmpo to use in the future. 

Giannis’ first shoe is a big deal for both him and the NBA. It has helped complete his transition from up-and-comer to superstar. With a global following and years of development ahead of him, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Giannis and Nike forged such a partnership as the NBA is searching for the next generation of superstars.