TV Review – “SneakerCenter” on ESPN+

ESPN+ recently released a special preview episode of their upcoming new series SneakerCenter, which will take a look at sneaker culture across sports, entertainment and more. This special preview features the reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, better known as the Greek Freak.

SneakerCenter employs an interesting format. It kicks off with an introduction of the Greek Freak and a tease of his story and what’s to come later in the episode. Before it gets to that however, it dives into a series of various segments, each one telling very different stories around sneakers and the culture.

These segments are very hit and miss. I will admit, I am not at all a sneaker head and learning about sneakers themselves does not interest me very much. So the 15- to 30-second segments about old sneakers and what players wore them didn’t really do it for me. If you are a sneaker head on the other hand (or foot?), I could see how these segments would be interesting.

The segments I did enjoy were the ones about people in the culture and how sneakers have changed their lives. “The Hot Spot” told the story of a janitor turned footwear developer turned coffee shop owner who used his love of sneakers to get himself to where he is today. He shares a story about taking out the trash during a sales meeting and using that to literally and figuratively get his foot in the door at Nike.

The “1 of 1” segment provides an in-depth look at a premier sneaker customizer and all of the amazing things he can do with sneakers using technology. It also shows off some of the special customized sneakers he has created for celebrities, including former First Lady Michelle Obama. He also creates some customized sneakers to be given to Antetokounmpo later in the episode.

The episode concludes with the Greek Freak’s story, another segment I very much enjoyed. Obviously, each episode would feature a different athlete and tell their stories but Antetokounmpo’s is particularly fascinating. The NBA superstar grew up poor in Greece and tells a story of having to share sneakers with his older brother and taking hand-me-downs from his teammates. Now, he is the NBA MVP and the first ever European player to have his own signature shoe.

Overall, SneakerCenter is up and down. It has its moments that are truly very interesting and moments where I found myself tuning out. Some of the segments seem unnecessary and feel like they’re in place just to fill up time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them cut in the future.

Some of the other segments really carry the show. There is certainly no shortage of great stories in sports and I would imagine that is also true of sneaker culture around sports. I am interested to see what other athletes will be featured in future episodes and what other stories might pop up from the world of sneakers.

SneakerCenter will be a seven-part series and will premiere exclusively on ESPN+ this fall.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."