Good Times on Chrystie Street: Steve Nash’s Showdown in Chinatown

Two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash staged his fifth annual “Showdown in Chinatown” charity soccer match last night, and Team Backpost had a front-row seat.

The weather was perfect, an overflow crowd turned up, and soccer stars such as Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou, Rangers’ Maurice Edu, and the Red Bulls’ Mehdi Ballouchy combined with fish-out-of-water NBA players Danny Green (San Antonio), Elton Brand (Philadelphia) and Mike Dunleavy Jr. (Milwaukee) to put on an entertaining show—all for the benefit of underprivileged children worldwide.

Some highlights:

• Not long after the pudgy, middle-aged ESPN basketball writer Marc Stein opened the scoring, turning in a cross from U.S. international Robbie Rogers, a solitary voice rose from the grandstand behind the north goal: “There’s only one Marc Stein. There’s only one Marc Stein.”

• In the first half, Rogers nutmegged Nash, but the Phoenix Suns guard wasn’t about to let him get away with it, expertly forearming Rogers to the turf. Here’s a clip, courtesy of Kick TV:

• For a man listed at 6′ 9″, the lumbering Philadelphia 76ers forward Brand did an unbelievable job of hiding on the field. He did his best to stay out of the fray, until it was unavoidable, much to the chagrin of Bucks forward Dunleavy:

• A few years back, Mavericks guard Jason Kidd played in the game, and while he was no Nash, he could knock it around a little bit. The NBA guys out last night had NO game. It was remarkable what a difference taking them out of their comfort zone made. They didn’t even look like athletes. At one point, a buddy of Green’s shouted from the sideline, “Come on DG! Get in there! Don’t be scared.” To which Green turned around and said, “I got nothing. It’s just not comfortable out here. Psychologically.” A few moments later, he added, “It’s not coming back. From when I was younger. My game is gone.”

• Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, a mainstay of the event, was on hand and was introduced before kickoff, but he sat out the match. He’s recovering from a calf injury. Also present but sidelined by injury were U.S. and Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden, and New Jersey–born Italian international Giuseppe Rossi.

• Kalou always has a good time at this event, and does his best to entertain the crowd. Here he is doing his thing before passing to Brand, who … fluffs the layup:

This event, held every June at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, benefits the Steve Nash Foundation. Click here for more info.

Photo: Bowery Boogie.

Advertisements

Red Bull-apalooza

The Red Bulls responded to the big Thierry Henry signing with their worst performance in weeks, an utterly listless 2-0 road loss to Columbus this past Saturday night.

About an hour into the broadcast of the DOA contest, MSG commentator and former Cosmos keeper Shep Messing said, “the most exciting part of this game so far was that [pregame] shot we had of Thierry Henry getting out of the yellow cab. I liked that one. It wasn’t in Hollywood, he was in Columbus, Ohio, in the yellow cab.”

Messing’s broadcast partner, Steve Cangelosi, quickly changed the subject, while stifling a giggle, knowing Messing had a point: This game was a poor advertisement for both the Red Bulls and the league, and the new marquee signing, who did indeed arrive at Crew Stadium by standard-issue yellow cab, could not have been impressed. He took no-frills transportation to a no-frills stadium in the middle of Ohio (no offense, Buckeyes) and watched a pretty pedestrian game—one in which the Red Bulls looked shockingly uninterested, despite the fact that first place in the East was at stake.

But no matter! That was just one game, and things are looking up in Red Bull-ville. Let’s wash away that mental image of Henry traveling by yellow cab, with this footage, shot by the Backpost A/V team, of Henry making a more accustomed entrance, to his new home, Red Bull Arena:

Note how he shakes the hands of the Red Bull Arena employees on either side of the door, and his overall silky demeanor. Sade’s “Smooth Operator” should be playing him in.

His new teammates should be inspired by his presence, and we expect them to lift their games accordingly. Henry has had multiple training sessions with the team, even bringing along his NBA-star pal, Steve Nash, for one. Check it out:

What’s an NBA player doing at a professional soccer team’s training session, you might rightfully ask. Well, Nash can genuinely play, as has been documented in the past, and he’s not just a passionate fan, but is also part of the ownership group for the Vancouver Whitecaps franchise that will join MLS next season. So it’s not entirely inappropriate for him to be there, and who knows, maybe his presence inspired the players as well. Based on the Columbus game, they certainly could use a boost. 

Henry will play in a friendly against Tottenham tomorrow, and make his MLS debut on July 31st in Houston.

Now, not to bury the lede, but the Red Bulls reportedly have another D.P. on the verge of joining the team, and Soccer America‘s Paul Gardner came out this morning saying it was Rafael Marquez, and that the deal was all but done. Marquez’s arrival has been rumored for days (his countryman Nery Castillo just signed with the Chicago Fire), so perhaps we’ll be getting some official word soon.

Jose Mourinho Goes One-on-One with Steve Nash

Loyal Backpost reader and budding politician the Colorado Keeper pointed this out to us when it broke a few weeks back, but, because the Backpost Intern is on post-grad holiday in Iceland, and our head is like a sieve, we are just getting to it now—even though we’ve done two Jose Mourinho posts in the last few days. Ha. Ha-ha. Sigh.

No worries—better late than never, because this is a good one:

After watching Inter Milan hold on with 10 men to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semifinals, two-time NBA MVP and avid soccer fan Steve Nash posted the following to his Twitter account:

“The eleven to reach the final for Inter are: Butt, Yashin, Banks, Zoff, Maier, Tomaszewski, Zubizarreta, Schmeichel Clemens, Higuita, Chilavert.’’

Oh, snap! But wait, no Friedel or Keller, or your countryman, Onstad?

So, a funny tweet (someone needs to come up with a better word for that) from a high-profile athlete criticizing Inter’s defensive style in that semi. Hey, they were down to ten men—against Barcelona—what did you expect, Steve? But we digress. This joke would be shared among Nash’s Twitter followers that got it, and that’d be the end of it, right?

Not when the Special One is involved. Jose got wind of Nash’s comment, and felt the need to address it, in an interview with the Times of London:

When I read comments by many real football people they understood how well we played that game and how much credit the players deserve. When I read some comments from some, I don’t want to say stupid people . . . For example, I read a comment from one of the best basketball players in the NBA, Steve Nash. He was saying that Inter could play that game with 10 goalkeepers. Fortunately, he plays basketball. He understands nothing about football.”

Nash revisited the matter on Twitter on May 16, writing,

“Oops I must’ve hit a nerve. Don’t worry Jose Mourinho I’ll bring you a case of wine to Madrid next season and we can make up!”

The feud appeared to wrap up amicably on May 20, when Mourinho offered an olive branch at a Champions League press conference:

”It is nothing. I hear he is a good man. There is no problem. I didn’t like what he said, but he is a great player and he can have his opinion.”

(Next up: Bill Belichik takes time out to address Didier Drogba’s critique of the Patriots’ 3-4 defense.)

Tip of the hat to the CO Keeper, and now:

A Bonus Steve Nash Story:

This one involves a friend of Backpost–let’s call him Dave–who is not the biggest sports fan in the world, as you’ll soon see.

You may know that Steve Nash spends his summers in New York City, where he plays a lot of pickup and rec-league soccer (the Suns are apparently okay with this).

There is a regular pickup soccer game at the East River Park (ERP) in lower Manhattan most summer nights and weekend afternoons. Dave lives in the neighborhood, and often plays there.

A few summers ago, right after Nash won his second straight NBA MVP trophy, Dave is playing at ERP, and there’s a guy in the game with longish, light brown hair who Dave says exudes a real surfer vibe. He’s also a very good player, so Dave keeps getting him the ball.

He–the guy–does stay out of the fray a bit, never challenging for 50-50 balls etc., but when he gets the ball at his feet, he’s very good, so Dave keeps knocking it to him. Halfway through, they’re taking a break and Dave goes up to him:

“Hey, you’re a good player. What’s your name?”

“Thanks. I’m Steve.”

“Hey Steve, I’m David. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you.”

The game resumes, and after a little while, Dave notices that a bunch of little kids from the neighborhood have gathered to watch the game, all of them pointing at “Steve.” At the end of the game, the kids swarm around “Steve,” asking for his autograph, and getting their picture taken with him.

Dave walks up—and this is a direct quote—and says, “Wow, I’ve never played so well here that kids wanted their picture taken with me! What was your name again? Sorry.”

“Steve.”

“Alright, Steve. Great playing with you.”

And off goes Dave on his bicycle, only mildly curious as to why all the kids from the neighborhood are still clamoring for a picture with this Steve fellow.

Yeah, that was Steve Nash, and Dave had just played an hour of pickup soccer with the reigning NBA MVP—without knowing a thing about it.