Nash’s ‘Showdown’ best soccer in the city

Nash, right, goes up for the header against 6-foot-11 goalkeeper — and Suns teammate — Marcin Gortat in last year's game.

The hottest pickup game in New York City is supposed to take place at famed Rucker Park, but there won’t be a game that sizzles more than Steve Nash’s “Showdown in Chinatown” tonight.

Now entering its fifth year, the “Showdown” brings together many of the top sports stars in the world not for a game of pickup basketball, but for soccer.  Held at Sarah D. Roosevelt Park on Chrystie Street and Stanton Street, the event benefits The Steve Nash Foundation and features both soccer stars and Nash’s NBA buddies playing in what he terms a “pro-amateurial” match.

“It’s a concept we developed a few years ago with my friends Simone Sandri and Venanzio Ciampa. Lots of soccer players are NBA fans and vice-versa,” Nash told Metro New York. “I play a lot of soccer in the summer in the New York parks and it just seemed natural to bring together these great athletes for what has become a unique sporting event.”

Nash grew up playing and watching soccer (his father is an avid supporter of the England Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspurs) and his brother Martin is a former professional player who made 38 appearances with the Canadian national team. The “Showdown” has become a part of New York City’s sports calendar, with fans lining up outside the event hours beforehand to get a good view along the sidelines and more intrepid spectators climbing trees and the chain link fence to watch the stars play.

Four years ago, now Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry played in the game and while his in-season commitments in MLS will keep him from lacing up, he plans on showing up to the event.

“It’s a good thing and at the end of the day Steve is doing a great thing in the community and I want to support that,” Henry told Metro New York. “I won’t play but I want to go there and show my face and support Steve doing something great. I enjoy it.”

Part of the enjoyment of the event is the laidback approach to the game, where the soccer pros routinely participate in one-upmanship and go for the spectacular to draw cheers from the crowd. On the flip side there is the comic relief of watching the 6-foot-11 Chris Bosh trying to dribble a ball not with his hands but his feet. Henry remembers that moment, watching Bosh trip over his own feet and calling it “funny.”

This year, Metro New York has learned that a star-studded cast of celebrity athletes will be on hand, including Salomon Kalou, of Champions League winners Chelsea, United States international midfielder Maurice Edu and NBA star Grant Hill, among others. Nash is also expecting “a few last-minute surprises” to this year’s roster.

“It’s a great opportunity to spend time with athletes of a different sport that we respect so much. Everybody who participates in ‘Showdown’ — both NBA and soccer players — end up having a great time. For me, obviously, growing up such an avid soccer fan, it’s just a great opportunity to share the field with some of the greats of the sport,” Nash said. “But it is a lot of fun for NBA players who maybe don’t know the sport so well. For example, a couple of years ago Nate Robinson came and played soccer for the first time in his life, instantly falling in love with the sport and showing great skills too.”

Follow Red Bulls beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for news and updates from practices and games.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.