Nash talks Hassli, footy, hoops at Showdown in Chinatown
NEW YORK — Ask Steve Nash who’s the toughest competitor he’s ever faced, and answer is at once obvious and amazing: Michael Jordan.
Jordan might get some company on Wednesday, though, when Nash faces off against soccer greats Patrick Vieira, Giuseppe Rossi, Youri Djorkaeff, Claudio Reyna, Demba Ba and others in the 2011 edition of the Showdown in Chinatown.
The annual street soccer match at New York City’s Sara D. Roosevelt Park pits a selection of basketball stars against some of soccer’s finest during the NBA and European offseason. The event is held in aid of Nash’s charitable organization, the Steve Nash Foundation. This year’s crop of NBA standouts includes Brandon Jennings, Grant Hill and Tony Parker, among others.
Speaking at a gameday press conference in Manhattan, the basketball star and Vancouver Whitecaps co-owner touched on a variety of topics related to his foundation and basketball, including the possibility of a looming NBA lockout. But it was his thoughts on soccer that ruled the day — including his take on the inroads the game has made north of the Rio Grande.
“Sometimes I think it’s hard to notice on a daily basis where the sport actually is compared to where it was but if you look at it in 10–year increments, it’s incredible,” said Nash. “Who would have thought 10 years ago that you’d see soccer scores on the SportsCenter ticker? Now you see scores, highlights and Top 10 plays from around the world.”
As for soccer in his native Canada, Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli’s recent golazo against the Seattle Sounders certainly left an impression.
“I was in a pub in Vancouver actually when I saw it,” Nash explained. “They were in Seattle. It was unbelievable. Goal of the year so far and probably a contender around the world for goal of the year. It was pretty special, and to bring the team back level at 2-2 was pretty amazing.”