Forget Austria. On Wednesday, the real soccer action was not at the Euro 2008 semifinals, but at Sara Roosevelt Park in Chinatown, where Phoenix Suns superstar Steve Nash brought some of his famous friends to play a little fútbol.
The game was a collaboration between Nash and Claudio Reyna, former captain of the U.S. soccer team and current captain of the Red Bull New York soccer team. Though the game was free, the ensuing after-party and silent auction, at the Replay store on Prince Street, raised money for both of their foundations. Nash, a longtime soccer fan and player, thought New York would be the perfect venue for an all-star exhibition game. “It makes sense,” to hold the event in New York, said Reyna. “We both live here. It’s an international city, and I think we showed tonight how many soccer fans we have … to have people just walk to get here, it was an easy decision.”
Walk they did — about 500 people lined the field, scaled the fence surrounding the field, and climbed trees overlooking the field to watch the game, which featured
San Antonio Spurs Dallas Mavericks star Jason Kidd, Phoenix’s Leandro Barbosa and Raja Bell, and Golden State Warriors point guard Baron Davis in his first-ever career soccer game. (Despite a yellow card and several missed headers, he earned an A for enthusiasm. “BD was the MVP,” said Nash after the game.) Jozy Altidore, Salomon Kalou, and World Cup winner Thierry Henry represented the soccer world. The turnout was larger than expected, and both Nash and Reyna hope to make the game an annual event. But what are the odds of having Nash & Co. go up against the soccer pros in a game of hoops?
“That’s an idea we’ve thrown around, but I like playing soccer too much,” said Nash. “I play enough basketball.” —Kate Dailey