Yesterday The Observer trekked down to Sarah D. Roosevelt Park to watch a little football. And we mean real football. Basketballer Steve Nash held his annual soccer match, Showdown in Chinatown, in which fellow kings of the court join forces with international soccer stars to raise money for Nash’s foundation.
The result? A hilarious mélange of sports phenoms, of giant and diminutive statures, kicking it for a good cause. As Nash’s foundation focuses on children’s health and education, kids really were the centerpiece of the event. Before the game a smattering of young soccer players scrimmaged around the turf pitch and, when the stars showed up at the filed, ran around in energetic circuits asking for autographs. The players all obliged, smiling as they did so.
We talked with Steve Nash who described the philosophy behind the event. “Its about putting on a show for the fans in New York and this community. Its free to the public to just walk up to this field and see some of their favorite basketball and soccer players and at the same time raise some money for children’s foundations for my charity,” Nash excitedly explained.
Tony Parker, who displayed some fancy footwork of his own during the match, talked to reporters about trade rumors. “The NBA’s a business, you can’t control that. I’m not going to worry about that. So hopefully I can stay in San Antonio,” Parker said. But when a passing New Yorker playfully shouted “You going to look good in that Knicks Uniform, man,” Parker chuckled knowingly, perhaps.
A whole section of fans, all donning Italian jerseys, chanted an impressive repertoire of cheers for Jersey-born player Giuseppe Rossi. With dual Italian and American citizenship, the talented Rossi played for Italy in the World Cup last summer. At halftime, Rossi divulged his love of New York through an accent that would make even The Situation blush. “New York’s beautiful. I live in New Jersey so I come often. And it’s my favorite city,” he said. An American who plays for Italy and a Jersey boy who loves New York. We sense a theme.
The game its self was a sight to behold. The players ran up and down the kid-sized field trying not to hit any fans who were packed around the sides of the field and in the bleachers. The Observser stood just behind Steve Nash’s young son who spent much of the first half chewing on the dreadlocks of ESPN commentator LZ Granderson.
Unfortunately the ominous skies broke just after halftime and we were forced to flee the field in an increasingly see-through white dress. Rain aside, the afternoon was a huge success for the Steve Nash Foundation and the fans, especially the kids, couldn’t have been happier.