Set amongst a sea of concrete, the Park is an oasis in an urban jungle. In 2008, fans of all ages crowded the pitch to watch Thierry Henry, Salomon Kalou and soccer greats match skills against Steve, Jason Kidd, and other NBA stars.
This year, we brought the Showdown back, with Steve’s in-the-process-of-forming not-for-profit company, Football for Good, presenting the Showdown in Chinatown on June 24th. Despite sideways rain, thousands upon thousands of fans crowded Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Manhattan’s famous Lower East Side to watch a game that no one wanted to end.
It all started on Tuesday, as players began arriving. Claudio Reyna (former US team captain) was a great host; Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns) ran into the Phoenix Suns’ incredible Community Relations Director, Cassidy Kersten, who was in town to lend a hand; Steve started getting texts from Thierry Henry (Barcelona), who was with Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs); and everyone was on the look out for Ryan Babel (Liverpool/Holland). The rain was intermittent, but excitement was building as our sponsors signage started to take shape at the Park. IMG worked overnight to build an area that maximized sightlines and kept the spirit of an organic match. Ivan Cordoba (Inter Milan) happened upon a planning meeting, and delighted everyone with his enthusiasm and energy.
On Wednesday, there was more rain. Steve’s brother, Vancouver Whitecaps’ captain Martin Nash arrived, as did Mathieu Flamini (AC Milan), Chris Bosh (Toronto Raptors), Salomon Kalou (Chelsea), Adrian Mutu (Romania), and Javier Zanetti (Argentina) (with an adorable toddler in tow). Thierry walked in and immediately recognized NBA TV’s Simone Sandri (a former All-Conference collegian); Edgar Davids (one of FIFA’s 100 greatest living footballers) leant his interview skills to the effort in a sit-down with Steve; and the rain kept coming.
Steve picked teams, the guys got dressed, and headed to the field where . . . the clouds parted. Not totally, but the rain stopped just in time and the game got underway. Steve got the scoring going, but surprise efforts by Grant and ESPN’s Marc Stein kept things inspired, while Mutu and Edgar wowed the crowd. With a few questions about the final score (although Mike “Q” Quadrino and Francesco Santoro, who stepped into the onion bag fresh from their roles with Steve’s Promotion Factory summer league team, might be more certain), our biggest goals were scored by sponsors Football for Good, ICAP, Medco, Metro PCS, vitaminwater and Calle.
When the guys were finally dragged off the field (attempts by one official to stop the game early to stay on schedule were loudly rejected by Steve), they headed over to our gracious hosts at the Box across the street, where they and their friends and families were served a well-deserved buffet. Then it was back to the hotel, and off to the AfterParty.
An estimated 500+ supporters joined us at the Hudson Terrace for a live auction, cocktails by Grey Goose, and hilarity, as the Steve Nash Foundation and Claudio Reyna Foundation raised funds for their causes.
The Steve Nash Foundation would like to extend a huge thank you/grazie/gracias/dank u/obrigado/merci/ringraziarla to all of the players, sponsors, volunteers and supporters that made this Showdown the best yet.
The Showdown will be back next year — stake out your seat now!