LOWER EAST SIDE — NBA stars kicked goals instead of shooting hoops Wednesday night as the annual Steve Nash Foundation Showdown returned to Sara D. Roosevelt Park for its sixth year.
The friendly soccer match drew basketball stars including Marco Belinelli of the Chicago Bulls and international soccer stars including A.C. Milan's Massimo Ambrosini to jockey it out for a good cause alongside Steve Nash, a LA Lakers point guard with a flair for soccer.
Team USA won out over Team World with a score of 9 to 6, slapping Nash — a South African-born Canadian —with his first loss since the showdown began in 2008.
Most Valuable Player of the game went to Joakim Noah, the towering 6-foot-11 Chicago Bulls star. After numerous shots at goal Noah finally got one through, scoring toward the end of the second half before taking off on an impromptu lap of honor.
"It was a great win for Team USA and it's the first time Steve Nash lost," joked Noah, who said he played soccer as a young boy. But in light of the positive mission of the nonprofit showdown, he said, "everyone won."
The match raised money and awareness for the Steve Nash Foundation, which assists underserved children with personal development, health and education issues. This year's showdown raised money for programs that focus on child abuse research and prevention.
The idea for the showdown first came to Nash when he was playing soccer with friends at Sara D. Roosevelt park several years ago, Nash told reporters before the game.