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2005: Jalen Joins Nash to Support Toronto Charities

June 24, 2008

SNCG_rose_jumper.jpgJuly 29, 2005 — (TORONTO -CP) Not even several no-shows and a
less-than-capacity crowd could wipe the smile off Steve Nash’s face.

The NBA’s most valuable player was beaming Friday night after capping a
busy week in Toronto with the Steve Nash Foundation Charity Classic, a
run-and-gun affair heavy on thunderous dunks, deep threes and lax
defence.

“All these great guys came up here and did a service for our
community,” Nash said of the players who made it out. “We’re going to
look forward hopefully repeating this at some point and make it even
better.

“We’d love to do it here again, so if the feedback it positive we’ll do it again.”

The Victoria native showed off his dazzling passing in front of an Air
Canada Centre crowd that was about 2,000 short of a sell out. Nash
whipped the ball to open teammates and tossed several eye-popping
alley-oops, the majority of them to Phoenix Suns teammate Shawn Marion
who had more vicious dunks than anyone.

“I’ve always got so much support from people across Canada,” Nash
said. “For them to come and support the event the way they did today
and give me the reception they did it is an unbelievable feeling.”

Philadelphia’s Allen Iverson was the most notable no-show. Toronto’s
Rafer Alston, Boston’s Ricky Davis, Phoenix’s Steven Hunter and Dallas’
Marquis Daniels also didn’t make it.

Nash shrugged it off.

“I think Allen had a really legitimate reason why he couldn’t make it,” Nash said. “Hopefully we’ll see him in the future.”

Nash’s charity assists underprivileged children and proceeds from
Friday’s game go towards funding a kids’ basketball centre in Toronto.

“It’s for a great cause, it is all about helping underprivileged
kids,” Marion said. “It’s all for them, it’s all about them.”

The game also filled the void left when former Raptors star Vince
Carter departed for New Jersey in a December trade, bringing an end to
his popular charity game.

“I think its great what he’s doing,” Philadelphia guard Andre
Iguodala said of Nash’s charity work. “It’s special and hopefully it
encourages other guys to step up do stuff like this in their cities.
Hopefully it has a trickle-down affect on every player in the NBA.”

Nash spent the majority of the week promoting his charity through speaking engagements and public appearances.

Nash was also honoured Thursday with Basketball Canada’s James Naismith
Award for his contributions to the sport both on and off the court in
Canada.

Prime Minister Paul Martin even showed up to the award ceremony at a
busy downtown square and praised Nash in front of hundreds of fans.

“I came out unscathed,” Nash said of his whirlwind week. “I feel
good and I was able to get through the game. … I’ve had a blast the
whole way, it takes a lot of energy to do this but it’s well worth
it.”

The six-foot-three Nash also proved he’s got some hops Friday. During a
one-on-one with Toronto’s Chris Bosh, Nash bounced the ball over the
six-foot-10 forward and caught it inches from the hoop before laying it
in off the glass.

“I didn’t know what i was doing, I thought at the last second I would
try to bounce it over him and he’s probably the longest guy on the
court,” Nash said. “ So I was pretty lucky he didn’t get a piece of
it.”

Nash received the loudest ovation during pre-game introductions, but
Toronto restricted free agent Matt Bonner was a close second. The fan
favourite, whose play isn’t ideally suited to the high-flying style of
charity games, even threw down a few dunks _ yes, it was that
wide-open.

One of the nicest slams came in the first quarter when Chicago’s
Jannero Pargo bounced the ball high off the floor from centre court and
into the hands of Iguodala, who was eye-level with the rim when he
windmilled the ball through the hoop.

It wasn’t all pretty Friday, of course. For every alley-oop there was
at least three errant tosses, plenty of bricks and several blown dunks
_ a couple by Charlie Villanueva, who Toronto selected seventh overall
in last month’s entry draft.

The West team, which won 171-149 even though it played without a sub,
was comprised of Nash, Marion, Phoenix’s Joe Johnson, Cleveland’s Drew
Gooden and Seattle’s Mateen Cleaves. Dallas’ Michael Finley was there,
but sat out with a knee injury.

The East team was comprised of Bosh, Bonner, Pargo, Iguodala, Villanueva and Raptors Jalen Rose and Morris Peterson.

Canadian musicians Nelly Furtado and k-os performed at halftime.