Nash an owner now, but don't expect histrionics
BY MARC WEBER
VANCOUVER - He's not going to go all Mark Cuban on us - turning B.C. Place into his personal playground where no official, or opposing player's mom, is safe from his vitriol.
He's not going to morph into Drew Carey, either - leading a marching band through downtown Vancouver, swilling post-game pints with the locals.
"Nah, not really my style," Steve Nash said Thursday at the grand opening of his second Steve Nash Sports Club, this one in Richmond, B.C.
When it comes time for Major League Soccer's launch in Vancouver, Nash will be front and centre.
His secretive stake in the franchise - set to begin play in 2011 and almost certainly to be called the Whitecaps - is irrelevant.
Like his former NBA employer Cuban in Dallas, or Seattle's showbiz MLS owner Carey, Nash will be the face, and not just because nobody knows what current Caps owner Greg Kerfoot looks like.
Victoria-raised Nash walks on rain puddles in B.C., and he's a global star.
Slam magazine just placed the two-time NBA MVP in their top 50 greatest players of all-time. Time magazine in 2006 declared him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
He can take the MLS franchise where none of its other owners can - onto the pages of the New York Times and L.A. Times and into late-night talk show studios.
So, what kind of owner will Nash be?
"Obviously I'm precluded from being that hands-on right away because of my job (dishing out assists and scoring the odd basket for the Phoenix Suns), but my heart is really into it,'' said Nash, who's hoping to sign a final three- year extension with the Suns.
"At this stage, I can share all the experience and, hopefully, wisdom I've gained as a professional athlete and help shape the philosophy of the residency program and the club itself.
"Other than that, I just want to be a super fan. No matter if I can make all the games or not, I'll be watching on TV or meeting them on the road."
The Whitecaps residency program, which recruits and trains young talent for the senior team or for sale on the international market, is of particular interest to Nash, whose passion for youth development has long been evident through his Steve Nash Foundation and his commitment to the Steve Nash Youth Basketball League.
So while fans may be all a-twitter over the prospect of Nash one day delivering one of his superstar soccer buddies to Vancouver under MLS's designated player rule - "Spent the day with AC Milan. Maldini, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Beckham all great guys!" read a Nash tweet a month ago - they should know he's more focused on seeing a local kid mirroring his own rise from obscurity to superstardom.
"The franchise player sounds romantic and sexy, and if there's one of my buddies in Europe that's a fit for our franchise, I'll absolutely put on the full-court press,'' said Nash, a close friend of 31-year-old Barcelona striker Thierry Henry.
"But I think we want to build a club that feeds off its foundation. Developing young players from our community and young players we recruit.
"It's exciting for me to see kids get the opportunity to excel on par with anyone in the world. We have the intellectual capacity, the facilities and the resources to make that happen.''
Philosophy. Intellectual capacity. So much of what Nash - a sociology major in his day at Santa Clara - will bring is impossible to quantify. The way Nash talks about Kerfoot is the way people talk about Nash.
"It's not easy to come by a guy who's willing to invest and fight for his club with the purest of motives," Nash said.
Living in Phoenix and New York with wife Alejandra and twin four-year-old girls, Lola and Bella, it's too soon, Nash said, to think about how much time he'll spend in Vancouver once his basketball career ends.
The 35-year-old is serious about pursuing another passion - filmmaking - and his foundation, which is sure to grow, already takes up 20 hours of his week.
"It all really just depends on my life goals and where and when the club needs me," he said. "It's a passion of mine, I've been a fan for 35 years, and I want to be part of developing it into one of the premiere clubs in the world, specifically in this part of the world."
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