Just days after unveiling his brand new state-of-the-art fitness facility in downtown Vancouver, Phoenix Suns point guard and Victoria, BC native Steve Nash saw fit to gather a group of friends and showcase their talents in front of a city thirsting for any form of quality basketball they could get their hands on.
Joining the former two-time NBA MVP, in his plight to raise money for local and international charities, were Suns teammates Leandro Barbosa, rookie guard DJ Strawberry, and an injured Raja Bell. Other NBA notables making appearances include Samuel Dalembert, Drew Gooden and Sam Cassell.
As could be expected from any mid-summer pick-up game, dunks were missed by the dozen and enough mistakes were made to make coaches across the country cringe in disbelief, but what stuck out more than the sloppy lobs or errant turnovers was the fact that so many athletes came together to support such a bonafide cause.
“There’s a lot of kids that look up to athletes with wide eyes, and listen to what we say and do,” said Cleveland Cavaliers forward Ira Newble, no stranger to charity work himself. “So I feel that we do have some kind of responsibility to follow a righteous or conscious path.”
Newble has been recognized for his efforts to shed light on China’s involvement with the Darfur conflict in Sudan, especially in the years leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The final score of the friendly skirmish read 42-39 for Team East, after being reset at the start of the fourth quarter (to make the previous Team West blowout more interesting).
“It wasn’t about the score today, it was about the foundation and how to give back to the kids,” said ex-Toronto Raptor Fred Jones, who along with an energized Dalembert and Nash, provided some of the biggest highlights of the night. “And [it’s] how the community comes out and supports Steve Nash.”
Attendance for the game was said to be 10,000, with all event proceeds being donated towards children’s charities across Canada and Paraguay. The game allowed players to take a break from their respective training routines and enjoy some time in a beautiful city that hasn’t seen an NBA team since the end of the 2000-01 season.
“I like it man, it’s a beautiful city… besides the weather,” said Samuel Dalembert referring to the constant rain that plagues the city.
Dalembert would go on to update HoopsAddict on his status for the upcoming FIBA Americas Championships in August. The Haitian-born center, who lived for a number of years in Montreal, is in the process of joining his family as a Canadian citizen, which would make him eligible to play for the men’s national team when the tournament tips off. Dalembert hopes to know his international fate by the end of July.
One thing that I found particularly disappointing was the lack of TJ Ford, who, in a press release on Friday, July 20, was said to apparently be in attendance. No reason was given for the absence.
All in all, it was an exhausting week for Steve Nash who, after opening the Steve Nash Sports Club on Thursday, hosted a swanky get-together cocktail party on Friday, and a number of events over the course of the day on Saturday. But the festivities have come to an end and the intended message has been made clear.
As Steve Nash scrambles around BC to provide a better life for underserved youth we’ve seen just how much of an impact he, and any athlete, can have on their community.