A Summer of Soccer from the Amazon to Chinatown
It was hot, it was steamy and some of the biggest stars took the field…world cup fever was in the air but the setting was Chinatown not Manaus.
Wednesday night the Steve Nash Foundation hosted it’s 7th annual Summer Showdown at Sara Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side in New York City. The two teams consisted of NBA players including Dirk Nowitzski, Mason Plumlee and Steve Nash himself. The remainder of the rosters were made of up international and MLS soccer players and other members of the sports industry. The game was a benefit for Educare, an early learning initiative, and child abuse research and prevention; both causes of Nash’s foundation.
Nash has only lost one game in Showdown history and he wasn’t about to make it two. Nash’s black team was ahead the entire game and cruised to an 11-7 victory. Nash scored the second goal of the game and proceeded to chip in a few more as well as a couple of assists before the night was over. While his fancy footwork wasn’t quite as good on the pitch as it is on the basketball court, it was the same Nash. He directed, he dished and he went hard.
Unsurprisingly, Nash wore #10 on Wednesday night—his Los Angeles Lakers number but also a number known for being worn by the best soccer players ever, including, Beckham, Pele and Messi to name a few. He grew up playing soccer and has even joked that his first word was “goal,” according to Lawrence Cann, president of Street Soccer USA who helped put on the event. However, the MVP of the game was awarded to Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks. He was awarded a watch from Jean Richard in front of a crowd of 5,000 people. He can put it on the shelf next to his 2011 NBA Finals MVP award, which most would argue have the same cache.
“Dirk said he’s the worst player out here but he’s our MVP,” the announcer told the crowd.
Nowitzki, the seven footer for the red team, booted the ball outside of the field high above the trees countless times during the game but a smile never left his face and the crowd found it hilarious. He had one goal on the game but won over the fans and apparently the MVP judges’ hearts. Nash didn’t feel the same way.
“He didn’t cut it, he had an off night, he got thirsty at the end and was shooting everything over the fence,” Nash said jokingly in a post-game interview. “He’s got a hell of a boot, he should be a punter or something, “ he added.
It wasn’t the perfect game by any means. There were numerous handballs when the NBA players forgot which sport they were playing and the toe balls that would sail right over the goal would make any true footballer cringe. Regardless, some of the world’s greatest athletes came together to play a sport that is currently taking hold of the world and for a good cause at that.
Throughout the game there were USA chants and the organizers were promoting the upcoming USA world cup game versus Germany as well as wishing Team USA good luck. The occasional “USA” chant would quietly erupt from the crowd. There were even rumblings calling Dirk’s team Germany (he was born in Wurzburg, Germany) in hopes that it would represent a USA win tomorrow.
When asked what the deciding factor was in the game, “The black team was just much tougher,” said Nash letting out a roaring sound.