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BY BEN TOCKER | In the midst of Euro Cup fever sweeping the city, NBA star Steve Nash held his annual Showdown in Chinatown charity soccer event at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Wed., June 27.
The Showdown, now in its fifth year, raised money for the Steve Nash Foundation, which provides assistance to underprivileged children.
The star-studded event featured NBA players Elton Brand, Mike Dunleavy and Danny Green, as well as soccer pros Jimmy Conrad, Mo Edu, Salomon Kalou, Robbie Rogers, Carlos Ludi and Emerson Boyce. Other athletes from both sports came to show their support on the sidelines, including seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill and international soccer superstars Thierry Henry and Guiseppe Rossi.
Marc Stein, senior basketball writer at ESPN, scored the game’s first goal. NBA analyst Simone Sandri added one of his own. Nash, a two-time Most Valuable Player renowned for his passing skills on the basketball court, showed his versatility on the field by deftly evading defenders and setting up a handful of goals in a 7-6 victory.
Throngs of soccer fans filled the bleachers to capacity and lined up to peer through the fences surrounding the park. Like last year, Nash — who lives in Manhattan during the off-season and regularly plays soccer in city parks, including at Pier 40 — chatted playfully with local fans about his impending free agency and his possible decision to join the Knicks.
Speaking to the media after the game, Nash wouldn’t divulge many details of his negotiations with several teams.
“I would think I’d meet with them if they’re interested,” he said of the Knicks. “I’m looking forward to seeing which teams are interested and what they have to say.”
He wouldn’t deny interest in the Knicks’ new neighbors in Brooklyn either, calling the revamped Nets and their spanking new arena “another exciting opportunity.”
The proud Manhattanite added: “Brooklyn is beautiful. I think a lot of guys will find out about Brooklyn.”
Ultimately, of course, not long after the Showdown, Nash wound up signing with Los Angeles. But he’ll always have Sara D. Roosevelt Park for his off-season soccer workouts.