Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Big Foot Dilemna – An Open Letter To All Shoe Companies

Dear Every (Canadian) Shoe Company Out There,


Over the past few days, I’ve been shopping for a new pair of shoes. After going to a few stores, I quickly realized that I was faced with a problem.  None of the stores had any shoes in my size! Let me explain…

I’ve always had big feet, and while it wasn’t much of a problem in the beginning, finding the right pair of shoes has gotten a lot more difficult in recent years.  Most shoe companies like Nike and Adidas often have really narrow shoes, meaning that those with wider feet have to opt for the larger sizes. This being said, Under Armour does a good job of making wider shoes that also perform really well. One shoe in particular that I am personally a fan of is the Speedform Apollo (link at the bottom).  I bought a pair of these a year ago in the US and because they were so good, I’ve been trying to find them in stores here.

As it turns out, this would be a lot harder than I thought. You see, finding the shoes themselves wasn’t that hard. You can actually find them in most shoe stores like Sporting Life, Sport Check, etc. The hard part was finding them in my size! It seems as the maximum size that most Canadian stores go up to is 13, while in the US size 15 shoes aren’t uncommon to see.

When the first Sporting Life location didn’t have the Speedforms in my size, I was like “Hm, no big deal. I’ll just try another location”.  No size 14s there either.  As it turns out, none of the Sporting Life’s carry any of their shoes in size 14, which is ridiculous if you ask me. Nonetheless, I tried a few Sport Chek’s and even the Under Armour outlet store itself, and was given the same responses each time:

“Are you reeeallllyyy size 14?”
“I’m sorry sir, but it seems like we only carry them in 13s.”
I doubt we have any, but I’ll check in the back.”
            Here we go again.
“Have you tried looking online?”

The problem with buying shoes online is that not only are they often sold out, but it also difficult to tell if you like a colorway just by looking at it on a screen. It’s a lot different when you can see it in real life. Not only that, but the in-store discounts don’t apply when you buy them online, which can affect whether or not the shoes are actually worth it. This was actually the case with Sport Check, where their Apollos were priced $30 more than the Under Armour outlet. Rip-off.

Overall, there was one store that consistently sold size 14 shoes. And that’s Foot Locker (an American store btw). They had the Curry 2s, Lebrons, and even the Lillards in size 14. Looking for a specific shoe? Go to Foot Locker, lesson learned.  They had Speedforms and a few newer Under Armour shoes as well. But unfortunately, the Speedforms in size 14 were sold out at the time.

So what does it take to find the right pair of shoes? Well for people with big feet like mine, a whole lot of searching, and then some. Why don’t most stores carry size 14? Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant wear size 14 shoes**.  Heck, Usain Bolt is a size 13.  As professional athletes, these guys have unlimited access to any shoes they want. But for the general public, it’s a very different story. With so much emphasis from the media on every new sneaker release, why not go the extra mile and put a few bigger shoes in stock? I’d certainly appreciate it.

                                                                                                                                     Joshua Chua            

**both coincidentally happen to be among my favorite athletes (hint hint)

P.S thanks to my mom for staying patient during all this searching. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The All-Bench Squad

Basketball is a team sport, and as we've seen in the pass, it takes a whole team of individuals working together to create success, rather than an individual creating his own. Not only do the starters have to play well, but a team's bench must also be able to contribute and even carry the team at times. In light of this, here are the 5 players that I believe have the biggest impacts on a their teams coming off the bench.

1. Lou Williams (Lakers)

Last season (as a Raptor), the reigning 6th man of the year provided a much needed scoring burst off the bench for the team. With the Raptors' offense becoming stagnant at times, Lou was able to create his own shots to bail the team out. As he quickly became a fan favorite, Williams' play continued to help the Raptors reach new levels of success, as the team won a franchise record 49 games. The 6' 1" guard averaged 15.5 ppg while shooting 40% from the field.

2. Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers)

While he was inserted into the starting line-up for parts of the season due to injuries all over the Cavs roster, Tristan Thompson emerged as one of the league's top rebounders, especially on the offensive glass. Thompson averaged 8.5ppg, 8rpg during the regular season, but upped his play during the playoffs, averaging 9.6ppg and 10.8 rpg to help power the Cavaliers to post-season success. With Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao out to injury, the Cavs needed the presence of a big man in the paint, and Tristan Thompson provided that.

3. Andre Iguodala (Warriors)

The 2015 Finals MVP and captain of the Golden State Warriors, Andre Iguodala, took big leaps this past season in showing the league what he is capable off, averaging 10.4ppg, 4.5rpg and 3.6ast throughout the postseason. Tasked with guarding Lebron James for much of the Finals, Iguodala held his own, wearing James down on the defensive end. As well, Iguodala provided a much needed spark for the Warriors off the bench, helping them secure the game 5 and 6 Finals victories.

4. Isaiah Thomas (Celtics)

Isaiah Thomas, the 60th pick in the 2011 draft has surprised fans league-wide, showing everyone why he should've been picked earlier. With career averages of 15.6 ppg and 4.7ast, Isaiah has proven himself to belong among the league's better point guards. After fluorishing in Sacramento and Phoenix, Isaiah was traded in February to the Boston Celtics. His immediate impact was felt, as his play kept the Celtics competitive in their first round matchup against the Cavaliers, even though they were swept.

5. Jamal Crawford (Clippers)

Jamal Crawford has come to epitomize the "perfect" 6th man, coming up year after year in 6th man of the year considerations. Known for his flashy crossovers and unrelenting scoring touch, Crawford continues to adapt his game to succeed coming off the bench, even after 15 long years in the league. With career averages of 15.6ppg and 3.7ast, we could see Crawford continue this level of performance for years to come.

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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Off-Season Recap

This past off-season came with a flurry of activity, as free agents chose new teams while numerous trades have altered the landscape of the league for the 2015-2016 season. To recap, below are some of the teams that (on paper) improved, stayed the same, and unfortunately, worsened.


San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs managed to keep their core intact, re-signing Tim Duncan, Manu, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. Meanwhile (and perhaps for the first time in franchise history), the Spurs signed a lucrative free agent in Lamarcus Aldridge to a 4 year/$80 million dollar deal. The Spurs also signed David West to bolster their bench and low post game. With all this in mind, the Spurs are looking to be title contenders yet again, impacting the outlook of the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Clippers: In somewhat of an interesting summer for the Clippers, the team was able to re-sign DeAndre Jordan to a 4 year/$87 million dollar contract (sorry, Maverick fans). As well, the Clips strengthened their second unit by signing Paul Pierce, Josh Smith,  and Wesley Johnson. Furthermore, the Clippers traded for Lance Stephenson, providing additional scoring for a team that is already tops in the league in that category.

Sacremento Kings: During the offseason, the Kings acquired Willie Cauley-Stein through the draft and Rajon Rondo through free agency. Both of these players seem to fit into the Kings' system quite well. The Kings ranked 14th in the league last year in PPG, running a medium-tempo offense. Rajon Rondo flourishes with the ball in his hands, and the Kings' slow-it-down half court offense should serve to his advantage. As well, the combination of Cauley-Stein and Cousins in the front court opens up much potential for this young Kings squad.

Stayed the same:

Coming off of their 4th championship and first title run since 1975, the Golden State Warriors decided to stay the course and keep their core intact. With the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson running the show, we should see the level of play we've come to expect from the Warriors carry on to next season. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers (who were on the losing side of the Warriors' title run), resigned their core of James, Love, Shumpert and Mozgov, keeping their expectations high for the coming season. Other teams such as the Pelicans, Bulls and Jazz succeeded in keeping their key players on board, while failing to add any noteworthy players to their teams.

Got worse

Portland Trailblazers: In a rather unfortunate summer for the Blazers, the team lost 4/5 of its starting line-up. Obviously, the Blazers lost LaMarcus to San Antonio, but they also traded Nicholas Batum to the Charlotte Hornets for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson. As well, Portland lost Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez to New York, while giving up Wesley Matthews to Dallas in free agency. All in all, the Blazers certainly don't look like a playoff team anymore, especially in a stacked Western Conference.

Dallas Mavericks: In a similar manner to the Trailblazers, the Mavericks also lost a large portion of their starting unit, with Tyson Chandler (to Suns) , Monta Ellis (to Pacers) and Rajon Rondo (to Kings)  all leaving in free agency. As well, the departures of Al-Farouq Aminu and Amar'e Stoudemire are bound to impact the team next season. However, unlike Portland, the Mavericks were able to make somewhat of a recovery by signing Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews.

There you have it, the 2015 NBA off-season in a nutshell. Let us know what you think about this summer's activity in the comment section below.

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

End of the Big Three?

Back in 2010, when Lebron James made his heralded "Decision" to join the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the NBA went crazy. A new dynasty had been formed, right in front of our eyes. Expectations were extremely high for this team, and the Heat didn't disappoint. Winning 2 championships with 4 consecutive Finals appearances, it would be hard to call that anything but a success. However, flash-forward to 2014, with Free Agency on its way, and with the Big 3 opting out of their contracts, the future remains uncertain for the Heat.

After losing to the Spurs in the 2014 Finals, Pat Riley went on the record to say:

"We need to retool, not rebuild."

Now, in order for the Heat to retool, it was expected that the Big 3 would opt out of their current contracts with the Heat to take less money and free up some cap space. However, reports have circulated of Lebron's intentions of getting a max deal, which is certainly not what the Heat had hoped for. To add to that, Chris Bosh is looking for a deal that is in the range of 5 years for $90 million, a contract that would be similar to Kyrie Irving's. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, has not been heard from yet. Is there cause for concern in South Beach?

To answer the question, no. The prospects of LeBron James leaving the Heat are very slim at this point.  A max deal for Lebron would mean a salary of $20.7 million next season. Although this would leave less cap space for Pat Riley to operate with, the Heat would much rather give James what he wants rather than letting him go. As well, letting Bosh go would make the Heat's frontcourt even weaker. Pau Gasol would be a viable option for his replacement, but the Heat would only have the full mid-level exception of $5.3 million to offer him. In the case of Dwyane Wade, it seems as if staying with the Heat would be the best option for him. Finishing his career in Miami, his only team, would put the finishing touches on an already remarkable legacy.

James has given no indication of an interest to leave Miami, and has not spoken to the media since the start of Free Agency. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have also joined this silence. This silence from the Big 3 could be a positive thing. Perhaps, taking a step back from the perpetual onslaught of the media is exactly what the Big 3 need. Time away to reflect on the past for years, and time away to make a decision about their future.

What do you think will happen to the Big 3? Share your opinions in the comments below.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes

After being traded from the Denver Nuggets to the New York Knicks in 2011, it was thought that a new era of basketball would dawn in New York, the mecca of basketball. Well, that didn't happen. In the past three seasons, the Knicks, led by Anthony, have struggled to find their identity, failing to make it past the second round of the Playoffs. Although, Anthony has continued to shine during his time in the spotlight in New York, as he averaged 27.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 3.1 apg last season. Anthony has opted out of his contract with the Knicks and is therefore an unrestricted free agent this summer. Ladies and gentlemen, let the show begin..

As of right now, the frontrunners in the Carmelo Anthony Sweepstakes are the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets. The LA Lakers have also shown some interest. Of course, there is still a possibility that Anthony could stay with the Knicks (but who really believes that). This week, Carmelo will (or already has) meet with the Bulls, Rockets, Mavericks and Lakers. Of course, each of these teams has something very different to offer.

With the Bulls:

Carmelo would join a strong and battle-tested team, with the likes of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson. Anthony would fill the need of a scoring (what he really does best), as the Bulls were ranked 30th overall in scoring. With Anthony in tow, the Bulls would instantly become an Eastern Conference contender. Paired with a deep bench and a great coach in Tom Thibodeau, there is reason to believe that Chicago would be the best fit for Carmelo Anthony.

With the Rockets:

With two superstars in James Harden and Dwight Howard already on the Rockets, the acquisition of Anthony would create a formidable Big 3 in a highly competitive Western Conference. In a team that is more offense-oriented, Anthony would flourish, given the ability operate freely. However, Anthony, who is notoriously known as a lackluster defender, would not help the situation in Houston on the defensive end.

With the Mavericks:

The Dallas Mavericks have always been active in the hopes of acquiring a marquee star player. In recent years, the Mavs have not had much luck. Instead, they have boosted their roster with quality role players such as Tyson Chandler, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, and Monta Ellis. Not to mention Dirk Nowitzki, who will be instrumental in recruiting Carmelo. Even with Carmelo Anthony, it would still be difficult to succeed in a dominant Western Conference. Given Carmelo's intentions to play for a contending team, Dallas may not be the best option for him.

With the Lakers:

This is where it gets interesting. The Lakers have always managed to maintain a winning roster, no matter the circumstances. From Wilt to Kareem to Magic to Shaq to Kobe, the Lakers have had their share of star players. However, it appears that the well has run dry. Long gone are the days where the prospects of playing in LA would draw all the superstars. Instead, the Lakers are left with an aging Kobe Bryant paired with an incredibly underwhelming supporting cast, with the likes of Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly as headliners. With the score-first attidude of Kobe Bryant and the score-first attitude of Carmelo Anthony, Carmelo could cause more problems than he fixes by joining the Lakers.

You've seen all the options. Where do you think Carmelo should go? Voice your opinions in the comments below.

Free Agency 2014 - Kyle Lowry

After leading the Raptors to a franchise best 48-win season, and carrying his team against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Playoffs, Kyle Lowry has cemented himself as an All-Star point guard. Coming off of career high averages of 17.9 ppg, 7.4 apg, and 4.9 rpg, while increasing his 3-point percentage to 38%, Lowry has drawn interest from multiple free agent suitors.

The Houston Rockets and the Miami have been in talks of signing Lowry, with both teams planning to make a chase for him. However, it does appear that the Toronto Raptors are still the front runners to keep Lowry, after talking of a 5-year extension. After the June 1st deadline, Lowry was contacted by both the Raptors and the Rockets, but it still remains to be seen what the Rockets have to offer. Due to the Raptors early-bird rights, they are able to sign Lowry for the most money. However, Lowry has made it known that his intentions are to play for a contender, which the Raptors are a few steps away from.

As for the Miami Heat, their first priorities are to re-sign the Big Three, as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade, have all opted-out of their contracts with the Heat. Whether or not the Big Three will take a pay cut to clear some cap space for the Heat is still unknown. After the Heat's lackluster performance in the 2014 Finals, as they were demolished by the Spurs in 5 games, it is apparent that they will need to retool their line-up. With a glaring weakness at the PG position, Lowry would be a perfect fit. Although, it appears that the Heat will not have enough money to lure Lowry to South Beach.

The Raptors have currently put a 4-year/44 million dollar deal on the table. As the competition racks up in the Lowry sweepstakes, a 5th year in the contract may be needed to cement the deal. Returning to a young core of Demar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, and Patrick Patternson could be promising. As this team has shown us what they are capable of, retaining Lowry would be a huge step forward in continuing a winning culture in Toronto.

As Free Agency continues, stay tuned on W2 Hoops for more NBA news..