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Two of the NBA’s greatest players joined forces to raise money for various charities in Beijing, and it took just under six-months for Yao Ming and Steve Nash to bring their idea to fruition.

The Steve Nash-Yao Ming Charity Basketball Game and events were held September 12-14 and raised over $2M for needy kids in China.

“I was talking with a friend of mine about the difficulties the children face there,” Nash told Suns.com. “I feel really fortunate that I am in a position where I was able to go to Yao Ming and ask him if he was interested in doing something over there. It’s an exciting opportunity to go to China and hopefully give thousands of kids an opportunity for an education that right now doesn’t exist.”

So, on September 12th, Nash, Yao and nine other NBA players kicked off their collaboration with a press conference that coincidently fell on Yao’s 27th birthday. Yao explained that this was simply a coincidence while thanking his friends for joining him to do something for the kids in China.

Steve Nash has already proven himself a true humanitarian. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who’s got a bad thing to say about the 2-time MVP. Generous, sincere, caring, socially responsible. That’s what Nash is made of. In the off-season, you won’t find him partying in Las Vegas, you’ll find him giving back to the community-whether its raising money by hosting his Steve Nash Charity Classic basketball game or opening an “eco-friendly” sports club in Canada, this guy is good. In fact, he’s so good that he even chartered a plane and flew the players playing for his team to China, namely, Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets), Baron Davis (Golden State Warriors), Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns), Chuck Hayes (Houston Rockets), Alando Tucker (Phoenix Suns), DJ Strawberry (Phoenix Suns), Amir Johnson (Detroit Pistons), and Paul Davis (L.A. Clippers).

All 9 NBA players attended the Charity Auction Party, which took place at the Diao Yu Tai State Guest House on the 13th. Ironically, this is the same location where the 6-country nuclear talks between North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan, USA and China were held, making it an ideal location for NBA good guys to showcase their remarkable intentions. The following 7 items were auctioned during the Charity Gala (winning bids are approximate):

  • 6 VIP tickets for the Charity Gala game on the 14th + 10 autographed jerseys from the Nash Invitational Team (including Yao Ming) + 12 basketballs autographed by the China national team: $39,000.
  • 2 VIP tickets each for the October China Game in Shanghai and Macau + 2 autographed jerseys of Lebron James and Dwight Howard + 5-star hotel accommodation for 2 nights in Shanghai and Macau: $16,000. (Winner bidder Song Tao, former Chinese National team center)
  • Autographed jerseys of Yao Ming and Steve Nash, 2 VIP tickets (with Les Alexander’s signature/approval to be closest to the court) for Houston Rockets versus Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center + 2 passes to the Rockets players’ locker room + lunch with Yao Ming and Steve Nash: $132,000.
  • An exclusive VISA platinum card with the imprint of Yao Ming and Steve Nash images on it; the only one in the world. $59,000.
  • An autographed jersey of soccer legend Pelé + an autographed jersey of Michael Jordan in his 1996 championship campaign + autographed boxing glove of Muhammad Ali + autographed jersey of Tour de France Champion Lance Armstrong: $50,000.
  • 2 VIP tickets for the opening ceremony of 2008 Olympics + 1 weeks’ 5-star hotel accommodation in Beijing + 2 round-trip first class air tickets to Beijing from anywhere in the world: $478,000 .
  • The China Discovery Car which has traveled all over China: $86,000. (Won by Lu Hao, Yao Ming’s China agent)

A total of about $900,000-plus was raised at the auction gala, which was just shy of the original $1M target, but Yao was having none of it and generously kicked in his own money to make up the difference. At one point during the auction, Golden State Warrior Baron Davis even took the stage, performing a few basketball tricks in efforts to bump up the bids.

On Friday, our NBA good guys joined members of the Chinese National Basketball Team to showcase their skills in the star-studded charity game at the Beijing Capital Stadium. The sold-out event gave all 12,000 attendees more than their moneys worth. Team Yao defeated Team Nash 101-92 in a game watched by over 200 million television viewers in China. Prior to the game, Nash pumped up his team and gave a heartfelt speech in the locker room, thanking them for traveling a long distance to join him for this effort. Actor Jackie Chan even made a guest appearance and conducted the ceremonial toss at mid-court to start the game.

SportsBusinessRadio.com’s writer Brian Berger was granted all access for the event, and writes: "Yao Ming came in the locker room after tonight’s charity game and thanked the NBA players who played in tonight’s game. He spoke of how much the effort means to him and to the Chinese people and how impressed he was that these players flew halfway around the world just a few weeks prior to the start of training camp. He told the players in the locker room that if he could ever assist them with their charitable efforts, he’d be happy to do so. It was a really nice moment for these players who play in the most exclusive basketball fraternity on the planet – the NBA. Once Yao finished his speech, the Team Nash players sang a song that the game operations people played whenever Yao scored in tonight’s game. Its a cheesy but catchy song that chants, “Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming, Yao Ming……..Yao Ming, Yao Ming”. The Chinese fans love it though."

In total the charity game and related events raised close to $2.5M for kids in China. Specifically, the funds will be used to support and build more Project Hope schools in the poorer area of China’s Western regions; to help impoverished girls in the Xinjiang Kezilesu Keerkzi Autonomous Region to receive education; to upgrade the facilities of schools for mentally challenged children in Western China and to work with children with AIDS through the Chi Heng Foundation which also supports the Special Olympics and China Youth Development Foundation.

For this, we thank you Yao Ming, Steve Nash and all the NBA good guys who were involved in spreading some much needed love around the world.

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