Under Armour has a new signee! Joel EMBIID has joined Stephen CURRY at the Baltimore based sports equipment company and has just rolled out his very first signature line 💰. Personally, it’s been a while since I have played in a basketball sneaker dedicated to a big man. So definitely looking forward to seeing how much of that clunky big boy shoe cliché has prevailed in the Embiid 1.
UA went with nothing too crazy here. A traditional mid cut shape and rather monochrome base colors. Accents really only come from the lateral support wings and depending on the colorway, slightly from the midsole. But still, unless you pick the “Origin” with its yellowish and orangish wings, you will not really find much that screams at you from a visual standpoint (at least when it comes to the current colorways). Instead, UA went with subtle storytelling elements, which make a signature shoe simply more personal. Cool details 🔎 can be found on the outsole. If you look closely you’ll find the outlines of Africa and the United States incorporated into the shoe’s outsole pattern as well as more details that describe the center’s journey to the big league. Quite nice and not too obvious. Nothing that would catch your eye from the get-go. The Embiid 1 was designed to be a middleweight (415 g), which came as a positive surprise as I remember big man shoes to be normally bulky and heavy.
We have seen similar approaches with other signature lines in the past, where the first ones do not necessarily get premium treatment but rather go with basic materials. Same is the case with these. Nothing wrong with that, as the materials get the job done. The open mesh is light, breathable and has the advantage that it doesn’t require any kind of break-in time. Additionally high wear areas are reinforced with fuse overlays.
Adequate I would say. Traction was okay on clean courts or as long as the outsole stayed somewhat clean. The dustier it got, the more frequently I experienced inconsistencies, which included occasional sliding out. Overall it never felt like these had the hardest bite and you should definitely be prepared to wipe often. Taking these to the blacktop was however a whole different experience. Traction was good on that surface and you would finally get the bite you would like to see on the hardwood. The only concern was durability, as I was already seeing some fraying after the first session.
HOVR and Micro G in one shoe? UA opted to use two of their main cushion technologies in this model. HOVR in the heel area and Micro G in the forefoot. While the former provides solid impact protection, the latter covers everything else in the front. Generally speaking, a big guy like Joel EMBIID can certainly need every single bit of cushioning to stay fresh, which could lead to believing that the midsole has to be way thicker than models designed for guards. But that’s not the case. Also the Embiid 1 doesn’t purely cater to the needs of bigs. Because to my surprise, this model offers some nice bounce and also good court feel. UA found a great compromise to balance cushioning needs for big men while still giving smaller players the feel of quickness when navigating around the court.
As I pointed out in the materials section, those didn’t really need any kind of break-in time and that translated into how comfortable the shoe felt on foot. For me, lockdown was good, despite some unnecessary dead space in the toe box. The only other thing that somewhat bothered me was the area around the top eyelet. No matter how tight or loose I would lace them up, this part would give me some uncomfortable pinching every now and then 🤷♂️. Apart from that, really comfortable. I would recommend going true to size.
Again, this is supposed to be a big man shoe, which generally requires more support than shoes for guards or wings. So it should not surprise you, that this area is very solid, but without being too restrictive. As mentioned above, lockdown is good and the lateral wings have you covered when it comes to side to side movements. Both of those elements make sure to keep you on the footbed. The ankle area is at least partly covered by the collar and provides decent feedback. Again, without being too restrictive. So while offering good support, what you won‘t find on these are features like wider bases or outriggers. Don‘t worry though, the shoe is well balanced and offers good stability.
Big man shoes used to be heavy and bulky but the UA Embiid 1 certainly is not. I think the way these are designed, make them suitable for players of any position. What stands out to me is definitely how comfortable these feel. When it comes to cushioning and support, I like how UA found a compromise to cover small and big guys’ needs. However, a good compromise was hard to achieve in terms of traction. I can imagine, that it‘s just fine, if you are a more static player, that fills up the lane and plants himself down in the low block. If you are however operating with a bit more speed, you would want some harder bite that has you covered on hard direction changes and stops. Still, for roughly EUR 120,- these are a legit option from the mid-range price segment. As mentioned in various of my blog posts before, that‘s a highly competitive market segment. So this might come down to personal taste. In my opinion however, these offer some decent features and good value for players that are looking for a compromise between a guard shoe and center shoe.
Got feedback? How did you like Joel EMBIID’s first signature shoe? Let me know! Find me on Instagram and Twitter: @ONEtothe2.