Last Wednesday, sports fans huddled around Sara D. Roosevelt Park in New York City’s Lower East Side to watch the legendary NBA point guard, Steve Nash, and a few of his athletic friends from the soccer world and NBA, go head-to-head in The Steve Nash Foundation’s annual ‘Showdown’ — a friendly, but competitive charity soccer match.
In case you’re confused and wondering why pro basketball’s third all-time assists leader organized a scrimmage where players dribble with their feet and not their hands, Nash grew up playing soccer in Canada. His impressive soccer resume includes: financially back a women’s soccer league, and he’s also currently part of an investment group that purchased Spanish Segunda División club RCD Mallorca for a reported $21 million dollars.
Steve knows a thing or two about ballin’!
In it’s 9th year, the ‘Showdown’ continued it’s streak of raising the bar, as it boasted an impressive caliber of talent who signed up to compete.
Team White and Team Red were represented by superstars like: Kyle Martino (retired MLS and US Soccer player), Massimo Gobbi (A.C. Parma), Asmir Begovic (Chelsea), Salomon Kalou (Hertha BSC), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors), Francesco Valiant (retired Italian soccer star), Giuseppe Rossi (Levante), Steve Weatherford (NY Giants Super Bowl-winning punter), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn Nets), Chris Mullin (NBA Hall of Famer and Head Coach of St. John’s Basketball), and Marc Stein (ESPN’s Soccer Today), to name a few.
With the proceeds raised benefiting children from underserved communities through health and social services, everyone left the game a winner.
Newcomer to the match was soccer icon and six-time MLS cup winner Landon Donovan, who squared off against Steve and Team White as the captain of Team Red.
It’s also worth noting, previous ‘Showdown’ matches have featured NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Kyrie Irving, Leandro Barbosa, and Klay Thompson — all who’ve gone on to become champions. With those players inheriting that kind of fortune, it was my duty as a Knicks fan to ask Steve how soon can he invite Kristaps Porzingis to participate. (Ha!) Peep the video below for his response:
While the players were serious about bringing the competitive edge, fans got some comic relief as SNL alum and funnyman Jason Sudeikis reprised his Ted Lasso character — the clueless American soccer coach hired to manage the Tottenham Hotspur F.C. — based off the NBC Sports spoof.
As coach of Team White, Lasso/Sudeikis
insulted provided support to his team throughout the game.
(The shorts alone had me cackling!)
Bismack Biyombo was a good sport when I teased him about being a leading NBA shot blocker, but unable to use his wingspan to his advantage for the game. Check us out below:
Biyombo didn’t lie about his soccer skills, in less than the blink of an eye, he had a hat trick (3 goals in the same game), and scored a total of 4 goals — the most of any player — before the night was over.
Guess it’s true, nobody beats the Biz!
Another NBA MVP, Kevin Durant, was in attendance! Hey, KD!
Portland Trailblazer and the NBA’s 2015-16 Most Improved Player CJ McCollum was all smiles when he popped by the game. He was super cool and funny.
Saloman Kalou, Team White’s #6, impressed the crowd with his fancy footwork. Check out him out here:
More game action:
At halftime, Steve and Giuseppe Rossi faced off in a juggling challenge. For every uninterrupted 30 seconds they bounced the ball, the foundation received $1,000 towards its programs.
The skilled athletes wound up raising an astonishing $10k in under 5 minutes!
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was on the run and doing his best to score a goal.
The Brooklyn Nets forward finally got retribution at the end of the game with a goal.
Unfortunately for “Swole Patrol” captain, Superbowl-winning punter Steve Weatherford — the man who kicks things for a living — he left the game scoreless.
He’s still a champ on the football field and at heart.
Team White had every reason to smile, they wound up defeating Team Red in an 11-5 rout!
Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic gave the charity game a big thumbs up!
The Steve Nash Foundation was established in 2001, and has since benefited thousands of children with a focus on “health, personal development, education, and enjoyment of life.” The foundation works to “increase access to critical needs resources at home and abroad to ensure that every child has a chance to grow, with a focus on early childhood development and child abuse prevention research and strategies.”
Steve Nash played in the NBA for 19 seasons before retiring in 2015.
Photos: The Steve Nash Foundation, The Sportstyle/Videos: The Sportstyle