Verdict from 1 expert and 100+ user reviews

5 reasons to buy

  • Wearers are impressed with the durable quality of the Nike Zoom Rookie.
  • The Foamposite material installed on the shoe molds properly to the foot, as some users attest.
  • Most reviewers praise these Nike basketball shoes for providing plenty of support. They specifically appreciate how the carbon fiber shanks and the pods do just that.
  • These are great-looking shoes, mentions a majority of purchasers.
  • Similar to the Air Jordan 1 Retro, a good number of those who tried these shoes on raves about its lightweight feel when worn.

3 reasons not to buy

  • The Nike Zoom Rookie is not for dusty courts, says a particular user. Traction is only good on well-maintained courts. Players have the same gripe about the 10th Nike Hyperdunk.
  • Several commenters kick up a fuss about the lack of ventilation in these basketball shoes.
  • Based on the opinions of some testers, the Zoom Air unit on the heel was rather thin. It makes the forefoot feel stiff and unresponsive.

Bottom line

Overall, the Nike Zoom Rookie is one aesthetically pleasing shoe packed with quite a number of innovative features. On the court, it performs quite decently. Moreover, it quickly transitions to the street when worn casually.

Making a comeback from its initial release in 2011, the Nike Zoom Rookie comes out in a new updated look that highlights a leather and synthetic construction for high durability. It is also equipped with Nike’s Zoom cushioning for excellent comfort. Retailing at $210, this basketball shoe is one premium model worth checking out.

Tip: see the best basketball shoes.

Good to know

Formerly Orlando Magic’s trusty point guard and now the coach of his home court Memphis, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway continues to prove his timeless relevance to his much-loved sport. His Nike Air Penny line of sneakers introduced the Foamposite - the brand’s solid but light molded material -  to the basketball scene. The collection gained much praise because of its impressive legacy.

The Nike Zoom Rookie was first released in 2011. It combined elements the Air Foamposite One, Air Go LWP, and Air Flight One. Now it makes a comeback with its updated look that utilizes a synthetic and textile construction. This shoe is built for durability and lightweight comfort, perfect for players who don’t want any bulk to stop them from speeding through the court.

Cushion. The Nike Zoom Rookie highlights the Zoom air cushioning system. First featured on the Nike Air Go LWP,  the Zoom Air delivers excellent impact protection minus the bulk. This enables wearers to move with speed and agility on the playground.

Traction. This model from the Air Penny line relies on its durable rubber outsole for grip on the hard court. The irregular patterns featured on the shoe’s base aid in helping players move with ease during the game.

Length and Width. This Nike basketball shoe is known to fit true to size and has a regular width. Wearers are advised to buy them in their usual sizes–additionally, the Foamposite material on the shoe molds to the foot for a snug fit.

Lockdown. The Nike Zoom Rookie utilizes a central lacing system for a locked-in fit. A lightly padded tongue further reinforces the fit and stability. For added support, the cleat has been equipped with an arch that works alongside carbon fiber shanks and the pods. Meanwhile, sturdy and supportive Foamposite ensures that the shoe is durable enough to take a beating, especially the areas around the toe and heel.

Built to offer the needed durability on the court, the Nike Zoom Rookie sports a construction that fuses synthetic leather with textile. Foamposite panels line the toe and the heel area to give lightweight comfort to wearers.

Even during its initial release in 2011, the Nike Zoom Rookie has paced through the basketball courts in style. One of the most iconic colorways was the Galaxy theme released in 2012. Now, the shoe comes back with an updated look that still lives true to its style origins.

Deemed as a retro-inspired hybrid shoe, this Penny model wears a style that suits both on-court and off-court action. The synthetic leather and meshwork to give the shoe a sleek and smart look that fans sure adore. Apart from its aesthetic appeal, this Zoom Rookie is also one trusty companion on the hard court.

For its 2018 comeback, the iconic Nike Zoom Rookie comes out with updated features and in two new colorways.

  • “Glow in the Dark”
  • Matte Black

The shoe has been made available in quite a few colorways since its release in 2011. The following are just some:

  • Black/Anthracite
  • Black/Black-Max Orange-White
  • Dynamic Blue/Dynamic Blue-Cool Grey-White
  • Galaxy
  • Game Royal
  • Varsity Red/Varsity Red-Black-Tourmaline
  • White/Varsity Royal/Black


How Nike Zoom Rookie ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 26% basketball shoes
All basketball shoes
Top 29% Nike basketball shoes
All Nike basketball shoes
Top 25% mid basketball shoes
All mid basketball shoes


The current trend of Nike Zoom Rookie.
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Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic

Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.