Just because the NBA is locked out doesn’t mean Steve Nash isn’t taking shots in a competitive environment.
The two-time MVP from Victoria, British Columbia rang the opening bell at the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday morning as part of Liquid Nutrition Group, a maker of nutritional beverages. Nash is a partner in the Quebec-based chain that serves juices, smoothies and electrolyte-rich mineral water.
While he was excited about the prospects of the company, which plans to open nine franchises across Metro Toronto, he was downbeat about the odds of a quick settlement to the NBA’s work stoppage.
“I wish I had good news for you,” the Phoenix Suns’ point guard said shortly after trading commenced on the TSX. “I sense that it’s getting toward the place where it needs to get but I don’t think we’re there. Maybe next week people will start to say, ‘Okay, let’s cut the crap and get a deal in place.’ I don’t mean to be flip about it. This is a serious negotiation.”
Talks are expected to become more intense as the deadline nears for the season-opener on November 1. Both the players’ union and league owners resumed discussions with full bargaining committees at the negotiating table on Tuesday. Training camps are supposed to start on October 3, but it seems unlikely they will.
“The players are unified but having said that we want to get back to work as soon as we possibly can,” said Nash, who arrived in Toronto at 3 a.m. from Winnipeg, where he received a humanitarian award from a hospital charity. “At some point we have to come together, come to a middle ground. Right now, the owners are pretty adamant they don’t want to come to the middle ground. They want us to come down. That’s the main issue.”
Asked if the players might consider starting their own league, Nash said anything would be on the table if the lockout prolonged. “I don’t think there’s talk of anything that radical,” he said about a players-run league, “but if we start getting toward losing a whole season then certain discussions are going to come into play.”
Nash didn’t play for the Canadian national team, which flamed out of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, and that decision to opt out drew heavy criticism from the media. He hasn’t played internationally in seven years, saying he needs to conserve his energy for the NBA season, even if the odds of there being one are poor. He spent much of the summer in New York and returned to Phoenix last month when his daughter started school. To keep in shape, Nash has trained with the Vancouver Whitecaps, the MLS team he co-owns, and kept up his renowned fitness regimen. Still, he said he couldn’t walk onto the hardwood tomorrow and be in MVP-calibre form.
“I think it’s a big leap to think that because I’ve had one Whitecaps training session that I can then go out on the court and play at a high level,” he said while sipping one of Liquid Nutrition’s “functional” beverages.
President Glenn Young said it was Nash who wanted to team up with the company. “When we approached him it was for your typical endorsement and sponsorship deal, but it was Steve who said he wanted to take an equity stake in the company.”
Young has also enlisted Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and East York-born Russell Martin of the New York Yankees as stakeholders who have accepted stock in the company lieu of money.
“To this date we haven’t paid any cash to the athletes we’re partnered with,” Young said. “When we went public, our stock became currency.”
Liquid Nutrition (ticker symbol LQD) was trading at 88 cents per share on the TSX Venture exchange midway through Tuesday’s session.
Prediction here is the stores, which are popular in Montreal, will be a hit in Toronto and especially fitness-crazed Vancouver. The drinks taste fantastic and, as Nash said, they’re loaded with healthy supplements. The functional beverages, marketed as “breakfast in a cup,” contain fruits, vitamins and whole foods. There’s no sugar and the company says it’s the best way to get the necessary nutrients before and after a workout. They cost between $2.95 and $7.95; you have to try the Early Bird ($5.95), which contains almond milk, berries and oatmeal.
“When I think about what I want to eat, this is it; getting whole foods, getting it in a drink where you can take it on the go,” Nash said. “It’s great for me and I think it’s great for a lot of people in society where we’re in a rush and time is of the essence.”