The Greek Symbolism on the New Giannis Antetokounmpo Shoe

The new Giannis Antetokounmpo signature shoe that was recently released by Nike Inc. is full of symbolism, national and personal. The new shoe and apparel line follows the crowning of the great Greek player as NBA Most Valuable Player.

The shoe, called the Nike Air Zoom Freak 1, and the signature logos honor Giannis’ parents and four brothers and represent his family’s path from Nigeria to Greece, and then from Athens to Milwaukee.

It tells the story of Giannis’ family with the mythical dimensions of his adventurous appearance as a unique symbol, while bringing in his love for Greek ancient civilization.

“In a logo, you can put a lot of things together and talk about your life — represent family, represent Nigeria and Greece. That is exciting,” said Antetokounmpo in a news release from Nike.

For the Greek athlete it was important to balance the story of his family with the mythical dimensions of his adventurous emergence as a unique sports symbol. To achieve this, the Nike Graphic Identity Group sought inspiration in ancient Greece and found a useful form in the decorative shapes of that time.

From the point of view of art history, the shape is known as the meander and symbolizes perpetual flow. For Antetokounmpo this has a dual meaning. On the first level, there is a clear connection with the aesthetics of ancient art in Athens, the city he was born. On the second level, it symbolizes his family’s journey from Nigeria to Greece, and then from Athens to Milwaukee, U.S.A..

The design is set up with a repeat of the Antetokounmpo basic logo, a G knit with an A and giving a hierarchical privilege to the family’s name. It depicts the hero’s journey, while the cut corner of G represents his unique athletic abilities. It’s no accident that his nickname is “Greek Freak” because of the unique way he combines height and agility in his play.

“Antetokounmpo has an incredible story. His love for Greece and reverence for his family’s journey is all great fuel for designing something unique for him. We can bridge ideas of European luxury and comfort that embody him as a person,” said Nike apparel designer Dustin Mangan in the same press release.