The Nike PG 1 makes Paul George the fourth Nike Basketball signature athlete to receive his own sneaker. It features a forefoot Zoom Air unit, a full-length Phylon foam midsole, and it’s priced at $110.
Is that enough to get the PG 1 into your gym bag? Find out with my performance review of the Nike PG 1:
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Traction – Many of you swear by the “translucent rubber outsoles just aren’t as good as solid rubber outsoles” theory, but while you’re too busy theorizing, I’m too busy enjoying the PG 1’s traction. Despite picking up an insane amount of dust the traction worked very well on a variety of court conditions. Wiping will be necessary every now and then but the overall experience was pretty surprising; the traction provided great coverage in every direction, even without a large outrigger and a relatively narrow heel.
It isn’t quite elite, but the PG 1’s traction is just below that top tier thanks to its consistent performance on multiple surfaces. The one knock I would have on them is that the rubber compound isn’t very durable and I wouldn’t recommend the PG 1 for outdoor use because the outsole will probably wear down quickly.
Cushion – The PG 1 uses a bottom loaded Zoom Air unit in the forefoot and if you’ve experienced this kind of setup before, you know exactly what to expect. It’s a fast and responsive cushion system that favors low to the ground players who want to get to where they’re going with no delay. If you have a more explosive style of play the PG 1 does offer a little impact protection to keep your legs and knees from aching at the end of the night.
The midsole is made out of a lightweight Phylon foam which keeps the PG 1 in a lower weight class and never gets in the way of you feeling that forefoot Zoom Air unit. It doesn’t do too much to enhance the overall experience. Can you find better value at $110? Probably, but for a signature model, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Materials – Depending on what colorway you get the Nike PG 1 will feature a different material in the midfoot and heel, but besides a few player exclusive colorways, the forefoot will almost always be made out of a soft mesh material that requires no break-in time whatsoever. This area of the PG 1 feels so comfortable and free — it almost felt like nothing was there. This is great for forefoot-heavy players that don’t want to feel restricted up front.
The back heel panel in this particular colorway was made out of a soft nubuck which also does a good job at staying out of your way, but the best part of the Nike PG 1 is what lies beneath the mid-foot/heel overlay. The inner-bootie construction uses an extremely soft mesh/neoprene material that just feels too luxurious to be valued at $110. Overall, the materials on the PG 1 aren’t very durable, but what they lack in durability, they gain in comfort — and that alone is enough to make the PG 1 a certified steal in this category.
Fit – Wide-footers beware because you’re going to have to go up half a size. My foot is slightly wider than most where my cuboid bone meets my metatarsal (lateral forefoot), and for a while the Nike PG 1 was painfully pinching me in this area. After about two weeks this problem went away; the materials softened up to a point where the pinching was totally gone, so in my case going up half a size wouldn’t have been the best choice. For anyone who classifies their foot as “wide” and has a hard time finding a shoe that fits them well, you’re going to want to go up half a size or find something else completely.
The rest of the shoe fit me perfectly due to the great use of materials (they were soft and conforming), but the lacing system also did a great job at keeping my foot locked in and secure. Flywire is integrated into the forefoot strap but the effect of this feature is minimal at best — but that’s fine because the Nike PG 1 doesn’t really need it. Had the PG 1 used materials that were stiff and rigid, the fit would have been a nightmare. However, the PG 1 provides a close one-to-one fit that stays with your foot during every cut, drive, jab and stop.
Support – Shoes are becoming more minimal with their support features as modern design moves toward “free flowing” concepts. The Nike PG 1 is definitely a modern shoe with a couple of support features that work well, but those won’t be enough for those who need extra support or prefer robust support systems. Most of the PG 1’s support will come from the sculpted midsole that cups the user’s foot. This allows the PG 1 to feel more like an extension of your foot and the footbed to be more in sync with the user’s movements.
The heel to toe transition felt awkward at first and while it isn’t as smooth as you would like it to be, it isn’t a deal breaker for the Nike PG 1. You’ll get used to it after a while, but I do wish that the heel was a bit wider for more stability.
Overall – Selling a signature model that features the iconic Nike Swoosh at $110 is about as close to a sure thing as you can get, sales wise. How it performs is a totally different discussion (one we just had) and I hope you were listening because the Nike PG 1 is a fantastic on-court performer. The fit is really the star of the show here — it provides a seamless one-to-one experience that doesn’t resort to gimmicks or complicated concepts to get the job done; it is just a great lacing system with even better materials.
The fit alone is worth $110 in my book, but the Nike PG 1 also features a consistent traction experience that holds up on a wide variety of court conditions as well as a decent cushion setup that favors quick, low to the ground players. Sure, the heel-to-toe transition was a bit wonky at first and wide-footers probably won’t enjoy the snug fit, but at $110, it’s worth a shot right?