Amid the frenzy of the NBA Draft and the looming lockout, Steve Nash gathered some of his best friends from the basketball and soccer worlds to Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side for his 4th Annual Showdown in Chinatown. On a sultry day with rain clouds threatening, the players did what they do best: play sports and entertain. The event benefited the Steve Nash Foundation, which provides medical support, personal development and education to under privileged kids.
Nash led a star-studded cast of Tony Parker, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Raja Bell, Brandon Jennings, Leandro Barbosa and Marcin Gortat, who tried their very hardest to keep up with guys like Giuseppe Rossi of Spain’s Villareal, Demba Ba of England’s West Ham United, and of course, Youri Djorkaef and Patrick Vieira, a pair of 1998 World Cup Champions with France. Other notable players included ESPN’s Marc Stein, who made up for his lack of his speed with great hustle and intensity, as well as Nash’s father John and his brother Martin, a former MLS player for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Taking some questions prior to kick-off, Dudley seemed to be very in-tune with what was going on in the draft, figuring his Suns might take either of the Morris twins, Tristan Thompson, or even Kemba Walker. Gortat was not so up-to-date on his mock draft, but believed the Suns would take the best overall player available. The veteran Hill fielded some difficult questions on the potential NBA lockout and how far the game has come since the 1999 labor stoppage. He said if his services are needed to help bring about a compromise, he would be willing to help, but as for now he trusts the player representatives (like the Suns’ player rep Josh Childress) to do what’s best for the game.
“When you get older, you can’t be flying up to New York all the time,” he said. “I gotta work hard to stay in shape. It’s not an easy thing!”
The game itself lived up to everyone’s expectations. Nash showed us all that he is ridiculously good at both basketball and soccer, and fan favorite Rossi toyed with NBA defenders in front of cheering Italian fans. Dudley even got into the scoring mix, netting two goals. After his first one, he took off his shirt and ran to midfield for a headfirst slide. On his second goal, he ran up the sidelines, high-fiving fans and then proceeded to grab announcer LZ Granderson’s microphone. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it was not switched on.
Obviously, the seven-foot Gortat was chosen to play goalie. He did well for most of the game, even taking a few shots off his face and midsection. The game came naturally to Parker and Barbosa, but Jennings looked a little lost out there. Vieira, Djorkaef, and Ba strung together some beautiful passes, making the game look easy. Someone want to bring them in to a Miami Heat practice?
For more info, check out the event’s website
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