Mark Mastrov cheered on his hometown Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. He also had a rooting interest in the Warriors' opponent—specifically, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.
Last week, the two announced that they, along with Angelo Gordon & Co., acquired Fitness World in British Columbia, Canada. Steve Nash Sports Club will now be known as Steve Nash Fitness World, expanding to 15 clubs in the province, with a 16th club set to open in 2010.
Mastrov and Nash go back to their college basketball playing days, although they were not on the same team. Mastrov, a point guard himself back in the day, attended a junior college and had hopes of transferring to Cal before he blew out his knee and ended up at Division II Hayward State, now known as Cal State East Bay.
Long after his college playing days, Mastrov still hooped it up in the Bay Area. He stayed in contact with the coaching staff and some of the players at Santa Clara—one of the schools that recruited him—and attended many of the Broncos' games. He remembers watching a young Canadian named Steve Nash dash and dart his way up and down the court for Santa Clara.
"He was just phenomenal," Mastrov says. "When Steve showed up, they had some great teams. When a good point guard shows up, you go watch him. The kid could play from the first day he showed up. Just amazing."
Nash went on to become a two-time NBA MVP and is a 14-year veteran of the league.
Mastrov's connection with Nash—and his friendship with Nash's agent, Bill Duffy—developed into a business partnership. The first Steve Nash Sports Club opened in 2007 in Vancouver, a second one opened in 2008 and a third is scheduled to open in 2010. The business partnership is a separate entity from Mastrov's signature clubs with 24 Hour Fitness, although another partner in the Steve Nash clubs is Leonard Schlemm, who co-founded 24 Hour with Mastrov.
"Steve and I stay in pretty close contact," Mastrov says. "If I send him an e-mail or a text message, he responds within a short period of time. I don't bother him too much during the season. He'll be on the board of directors like he was before. He'll show up to the meetings and be on the calls when he can and he'll be engaged."
Mastrov got a chance to see Nash before and after the wild 132-127 Warriors win on Saturday. (Nash scored 36 points and dished out nine assists.) After Nash hangs up his sneakers, Mastrov expects him to be more involved in the club business.
"He likes to learn," Mastrov says. "He's a sponge. But he's got quite a few years ahead of him. He's not going anywhere. At 35, he's probably one of the best guards, if not the best guard, in the league today."