Our first Showdown in Los Angeles took place on a day of gorgeous sunshine – but before we could get outside, a new inside event kept us busy: Robbie Rogers, a returning Showdown’er, met with Google and the Trevor Project for a Google Hangout moderated by another Showdown personality: the incomparable LZ Granderson. From our home base at the JW Marriott at LA Live, Robbie answered questions from the LGBT and soccer communities combined in a revealing, touching, and affirming live chat about coming out and coming into one’s own. Watch it here.
From there, LZ and Robbie headed over to our Players Lounge, where the Showdown LA athletes assembled for some upbeat downtime, picked teams, got their kits, and got acquainted: old friends Kyle Martino and Brian McBride caught up, Steve met the great Claudio Suarez, Jared Dudley surprised us by winning the battle of the 5 freeway (with his lovely dad and friends in tow), Robbie Keane popped by for a neighborly welcome, Jeremy Lin and Klay Thompson weighed in on their chances, and everyone got a sneak peak (and samples!) of Robbie Rogers line of menswear,Halsey, while enjoying eats from Rock’n Fish at LA Live.
The rosters, as they always do, revealed themselves with the help of Showdown co-founder Simone Sandri:
Team Navy Blue: Steve Nash (Steve Nash Foundation President & LA Lakers), Simone Sandri (Showdown Co-Founder), Jared Dudley (LA Clippers), Carlo Cudicini (LA Galaxy), Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets), Kyle Martino (former LA Galaxy player), John O’Brien (former Chivas USA & U.S. National Team member), and Claudio Suarez (former Chivas USA & Mexico National Team member).
Team Light Blue: Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA), Martin Zuniga (former Chivas USA & Mexican National Team member), Brian McBride (former MLS and U.S. National team member), Jovan Kirovski (former LA Galaxy player), Brian Dunseth (former LA Galaxy player), Marc Stein (ESPN), and, by the end of the match (it was a ref thing) Jeremy Lin (Houston Rockets).
and Steve rallied everyone to an on-time arrival at Red Shield Community Center. Our friends/constant companions at Time Warner Cable were on hand to capture all the behind-the-scenes discussion, shenanigans, and hoopla — you can get those inside scoops when the Showdown LA broadcast airs across the country beginning July 30th, on Time Warner Cable, Time Warner Sports, and Time Warner Sports Deportes.
Then it was time, as we say, to put the “show” in Showdown — arriving at Red Shield Community Center, the guys were met with a host of media eager to chat, and with thousands of fans cheering on their favorite athletes. As in NYC for the past six summers, Showdown brings together fans and players of the beautiful game alike, gathering like we did as kids for a pick-up game in a park.
On-field host (and CNN and ESPN contributor extraordinaire) LZ Granderson again leant his entertaining and informed ways to the cause — he welcomed everyone, and introduced the players, and then brought Steve to center-pitch to give his thanks for the amazing support he and the Steve Nash Foundation have found in California. Then, together with our wonderful friends at Girard-Perregaux, Steve presented the Spirit of Showdown Award to a surprised and ever-humble Robbie Rogers, for his inspiring year. And then, the game began . . . .
Competition at Showdown is always fierce — and getting this gang of close-knit players together didn’t change that — but that didn’t stop the comedy. Kyle Martino was in fine form as he rolled around on the grass in honor of soccer epic flops, Jeremy Lin had the crowd loving his moves, but it was Jared Dudley that gave Showdown yet another Sports Center moment — we didn’t think anything could top his 2010 NYC post-goal performance, but after nailing a shot, Mr. JSPN took off on a run, stripping off his Showdown jersey to reveal his new Los Angeles Clippers jersey, which he also stripped off and tossed to the crowd.
Goals followed by Steve, Kyle, Carlos Bocanegra, Klay Thompson (who scored twice – you go, NBA’ers!), and ESPN’s Marc Stein, who, this time, defied Mr. Arash Markazi, on hand to witness it firsthand with Ramona Shelburne. A little tomfoolery saw Jeremy shuttled over to the opposing team in the 2nd half, but no matter . . . .
When the ref’s whistle blew, it was a close 5-4 in favor of Team Nash, but (another!) big win for kids. Showdown’s Player of the Match was a unanimous decision in Carlo Cudicini, who was also awarded a beautiful Chrono Hawk by Girard-Perregaux for his game-saving moves and immense kindness of spirit.
After a great dinner at El Cholo, Showdown After Hours moved everyone to the Target Terrace for a late night of drinks, laughs, and a live auction to support the cause — even co-emcee Steve Nash got in on the action, fighting off competing bids for the game-worn Lakers jersey worn by the artist-formerly-known-as-Ron-Artest in the 2010 NBA Finals (it was really nice). BAT provided everyone with some great take-away photos, and eventually, some tired party-goers wrapped up the night.
Showdown wouldn’t be possible without the great support of our fans, players, and sponsors: AEG, JetBlue, Jawbone ®, Major League Soccer, AXS TV, Vita Coco, Kappa USA, Beck & Score, WAT-AAH!, UPS, DFS, BlackBerry, Under Armour and popchips all stepped up to create a Showdown for the books, with generous support (and great assists!) coming from Red Shield Community Center, ESPN LA 710, and Lakers Nation. We couldn’t have done it without the co-caps from AEG and Wide Angle Group, and the team of volunteers (including our friends in from Phoenix!).
Time Warner Cable is televising Showdown LA in English as well as Spanish in major markets including California, Nevada, Ohio, Minnesota, NY, and Texas, beginning July 30th.
Follow @SteveNashFdn and visit www.stevenash.org/Showdown for more information.