Superstar point guard Steve Nash always gets his kicks in the offseason. And last week was no exception.
Nash and a crew of NBA stars -- including Tony Parker, Chris Bosh, and Grant Hill -- got together for the Nash's charity soccer game Wednesday in New York City.
Before the game kicked off, Nash talked to SIKIDS.com about his love of soccer, his loads of charity work for kids, the NBA's best soccer player, and a certain overgrown Houston Rockets star who might join him on the field later this summer...
SIKIDS.com: What is this game about?
Steve Nash: The event is an eight-a-side soccer game between European soccer stars and NBA basketball players. It’s free for the public and it’s a lot of fun for the two sports to get out there and play together. The atmosphere’s amazing in New York because we don’t have it in a stadium; we just have it in a regular park. So the fans are just piled up, and they’re excited because they can reach out and touch their favorite players. It’s 8-a-side soccer, so there’s a lot more action and a lot more touches for everyone.
SIKIDS.com: What does this event raise money for?
Nash: The event benefits the Steve Nash Foundation and the Claudio Reyna Foundation. That foundation’s mission is basically any children’s cause that interests health care, education, or any other need where children are underserved. It helps a lot of people every place in the world, from newborns to high school kids. The proceeds from this game are going to go to the Gulu Youth Center for Sport, Culture & Reconciliation in Gulu, Uganda. We’re building a youth center that will give kids an opportunity to grow as healthy artists and to get baseline levels of education, health care and reconciliation after 22 years of war in that region.
SIKIDS.com: Was it easy for you to recruit NBA stars like Chris Bosh and Grant Hill to come out and play?
Nash: Yeah, we’re lucky. I didn’t even ask that many NBA players, I just asked some friends and they all were receptive, so, it was great. It’s a lot of fun.
SIKIDS.com: You’ve grown up with a lot of soccer in your life: your father played semi-pro and your brother plays professionally and you played a lot yourself. Do you think being a point guard gives you an advantage in soccer?
Nash: They’re really different, but there are a lot of similarities. You know, the fact that they’re team sports, the fact that they’re played with a ball, the fact that a big part of success in the game is in the context of team and how you can pass and intelligence and skill, so you have to make angles and see movement and a lot of those things that are very similar. I think that soccer had a huge influence on my life, my career as a basketball player.
SIKIDS.com: Do you use soccer in the off-season to stay in shape for basketball?
Nash: I do. It’s a great way for me to be in great shape and at the same time, not exhaust myself mentally because I’m enjoying it so much.
SIKIDS.com: Would you consider playing professional soccer after you retire from the NBA?
Nash: Um, you never know. But I think it’d be difficult to do. I’ll be, probably 38 years old when I stop playing basketball. To play soccer at that age would definitely be difficult. But that’s something that I can dream about and you never know, if I ever have the guts to try it.
SIKIDS.com: Who are the most talented NBA soccer players?
Nash: Well, Leandro Barbosa, my teammate, is from Brazil and he’s a pretty good player. So far I think he’s the best.
SIKIDS.com: Are there any NBA players that you’d like to see play soccer just for the spectacle of it?
Nash: Yao Ming is gonna play in my charity soccer game in Vancouver [on September 23], so that should be interesting…
SIKIDS.com: Do you think the U.S. has a shot at winning the Confederations Cup?
Nash: Well, I think anything can happen in soccer. In basketball there’s usually a bigger discrepancy between the team that’s much more talented, but anything can happen in soccer. If the U.S. believes in themselves and plays together and [has] a fighting mentality, then anything can happen.
SIKIDS.com: Is there any way for SIKids.com readers to get involved with your Foundation?
Nash: I think more than anything, they can go to my foundation’s website, stevenash.org, and look around. And if there’s any way that they want to get involved they can always email my foundation on the site and let us know how they’d like to help.