All-Star: Who is Steve Nash rooting for? Vancouver Whitecaps owner and Tottenham fan takes sides

When Tottenham Hotspur take to the field to face the MLS All-Star team at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday (9 pm ET; FOX Sports 1, UniMás in the US; TSN, RDS in Canada), one Major League Soccer club owner in particular will be an avid viewer.

Former NBA star Steve Nash is a lifelong Tottenham fan. He's also been a part owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps since July 2008 in their pre-MLS days.

Nash's father hails from North London. It's Tottenham territory and it's bona fide Spurs blood that runs through his family's blood.

"My grandparents supported Spurs, my dad, everyone. So it was a long-standing tradition," Nash told MLSSoccer.com. "We used to go over every year. When we were kids it was still a bit rough, so we waited a little while [before going to games].

"Back then there was still a lot of standing, it wasn't all-seaters and there was a bit of trouble at games. Even though we'd go over a lot, I wasn't able to go to a lot of games [at White Hart Lane]. But I've seen Spurs there a couple of dozen times over in my life."

Growing up as a kid in Canada in the late 70s and early 80s, following a team from England wasn't always easy. But Nash made sure to find a way and has early memories of supporting Tottenham as a kid.

"We would, fairly regularly, get a game on the west coast of Canada," Nash recalled. "Every Saturday morning, early, there'd be a game. I think once a month it would be Spurs, or something like that. I remember them in the Cup finals in ’81 and ’82. I must have been six, seven years old, had my kit on and up early. The whole bit."

As Nash got older, and his own athletic career started to take off, the opportunities to watch Tottenham play live in England got harder to come by. Having twin daughters in October 2004 was another factor that limited his trips overseas.

"I don't sadly," Nash said when asked if he sees them play live as much as he’d like. "Especially with the kids, their schedules and stuff. My girls are 10 now, so the last 10 years I've only be over to see them once. I've seen them play over here, but it's not the same."

Other commitments will prevent Nash from heading to Colorado this week to watch his favorite club. Now retired from the NBA, Nash is the general manager for the Canada men’s national basketball team and is heading home with his family after helping to guide Canada to their first-ever medal, a silver, at the Pan Am Games.

He may not be in Denver in person, but he will be watching Wednesday's match closely, with one eye on Spurs and one on Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.

So any mixed allegiances for the big game?

"I want Spurs to win," Nash admitted. "Obviously, I want David [Ousted] to do well and I want the MLS team to do well. I can never ever see myself wanting Spurs to lose. But if Spurs played the Whitecaps, in the World Club Championship say, that would be a good problem to have."

Nash knows all about All-Star games in his own sport. The Canadian is an eight-time NBA All-Star and two-time league MVP. But while he’s the best basketball player Canada has ever produced, he also grew up playing soccer -- and could likely have played at the professional level if he had chosen that path.

With a deep-set love for the game, when he had the opportunity to invest in the Whitecaps seven years ago, he jumped at it.

Today Nash is one of four investors in the Whitecaps, alongside Jeff Mallett, Steve Luczo and majority owner Greg Kerfoot. Although his day-to-day involvement has been somewhat limited by his own successful sporting and business career, Nash feels it's been everything he could have hoped for so far.

"I'm not very hands on, yet," Nash admitted. "But I just love being a fan. Having a little bit of a stake in the team makes it even more exciting. It's great when I come home and I see people with Whitecaps gear on and people excited about the team. It makes it all worthwhile."

Another aspect of the Whitecaps that Nash finds exciting right now is the direction that the club is taking under the management of head coach Carl Robinson.

The Welshman may still be halfway through his second season with the 'Caps, but his stamp on the team is already being deeply felt and appreciated by Nash and his fellow owners.

"I think he's been great," Nash said of Robinson. "For one, the guys respect him and enjoy working with him. He's straightforward with them and honest and he's built a really nice-fitting culture. The project just keeps moving forward as far as the club in general on all fronts."

Robinson has the team in the upper echelons of the MLS league table. And while the Whitecaps will surely have dreams of making a deep run in this year's postseason, Nash is equally excited about the club's long-term prospects. 

"Continuing to build and continuing to be more familiar [with the league]," Nash said. "We've done a good job in the scouting department. To keep refining our ability to scout the world, not only for the first team, but for our academy. Our academy is really making strides.

"That's a huge part of what we're trying to do. That's the long-term vision. That's what we want to do -- on the football side build a culture and have an understanding with our fans of how we want to play and what we represent. And scouting and the academy, for our long-term vision, [we want to] use them to grow talent."

Michael McColl covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.

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