Saturday , Sep , 15 , 2007 Oly Sandor

China Charity Game? … No Problem For Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash Who Saves Youth Basketball Leagues, Too

It didn’t matter that the amount of money was a drop in the bucket for an NBA team. And it didn’t matter that the Grizzlies made a good-faith promise to the kids. Heck, ownership lied about keeping the team in Vancouver, so what’s a damn youth league …

Brian Berger of Sports Business Radio reports on the Steve Nash-Yao Ming charity game in China:

“Steve Nash and Yao Ming called upon their friends to help them raise money for Chinese children in need and their friends came running. From Carmelo Anthony to Baron Davis to Leandro Barbosa to the Chinese national team, these players and organizations came together to raise $2.5M from a dinner gala and a basketball game held tonight in Beijing. That money will go a long way here in China.”

My Quick Take: NBA players get plenty of negative attention. Most people roll their eyes when players get arrested or caught up in drama. Nothing out of the ordinary; business as usual.

Arrests overshadow players like and giving back. I’m not surprised by Nash’s charitable acts, though. I attended his July charity classic game in Vancouver, Canada. The two-time MVP talked to every fan and fulfilled all media requests. And believe me, there were plenty of fans and reporters asking for their two minutes with the star table-setter. That included me.

Now, on the eve of training camp, he’s flying to China to raise money for orphans. That’s pretty impressive.

I have another story. Years ago, when Vancouver had an NBA team, the club funded a youth basketball league called the Junior Grizzlies. When the team left for Memphis, they refused to honor their five year, $150, 000.00 funding commitment for the league.

It didn’t matter that the amount of money was a drop in the bucket for an NBA team. And it didn’t matter that the Grizzlies made a good-faith promise to the kids.  Heck, ownership lied about keeping the team in Vancouver, so what’s a damn youth league, right? Hundreds of kids were on the verge of losing basketball-until Nash stepped-up and paid the money out of his own pocket.

The league survived and keeps growing every year. Only now it’s called The Steve Nash Youth League. As an analyst, I’m supposed to be objective. But Nash and Yao make it pretty tough.

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