By BOB MACKIN
Steve Nash is putting pleasure before business for a good cause.
Victoria's two-time NBA most valuable player is hosting the Showdown in Downtown eight-a-side soccer match at David Lam Park on Sept. 19. He also returns Oct. 22 with the Phoenix Suns for a General Motors Place exhibition meeting with the Portland Trailblazers. Proceeds from both will benefit the Steve Nash Foundation.
The free admission soccer match will include NBA stars, retired European soccer legends, Whitecaps' residency prospects and Martin Nash, the Caps' captain and Steve's younger brother. A fundraising gala dinner and after-party are in the works.
Nash hosted similar events in June 2008 and 2009 in the Big Apple where he lives in the off-season. He said the soccer events are easier to organize than his 2006 and 2007 Charity Basketball Classics at GM Place.
"Everyone knows how much I love soccer," Nash said Wednesday. "On the back of the incredible success and energy of what we created in New York City, I thought - with my new partnership in the Whitecaps - it's a natural fit for me to take it to Vancouver."
Nash said one of the unconfirmed soccer greats is a World Cup winner. He said Houston Rocket Yao Ming won't play because of ankle surgery, but he is hopeful the Chinese star will attend. A fan festival will precede the game at the Yaletown pitch in need of repairs.
"I haven't seen the field," he said. "I'd hope that the city can help get it in a playable condition for the game. I don't know how committed they are so I can't comment on that."
Nash returns to his hometown Sept. 18 to accept an honourary University of Victoria degree.
Tickets for the Oct. 22 Suns' game are on sale Aug. 8.