Soccer Stars: Steve Nash, Baron Davis, Thierry Henry and Company

June, 24, 2008
6/24/08
10:19
AM ET

ESPN's Marc Stein has word that Steve Nash and many of his friends -- including several NBA players, and some of the best soccer players on the planet -- will be playing a soccer game tomorrow afternoon in New York City to raise money for charity.

It's free and open to the public. It will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Nike Field in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The game is just off Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Stanton Streets) south of Houston.

Among those expected to participate are Baron Davis, Jason Kidd, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, Joakim Noah, Thierry Henry, Claudio Reyna, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman, Jozy Altidore, Juan Pablo Angel, and Gregg Berhalter.

What Stein's story does not mention, however, is that Marc Stein himself will be playing. He's a die-hard soccer fan who plays regularly.

He has a tactic in mind to look good in such a high-level game: Stay close to the NBA players like Kidd and Davis who did not grow up with the sport.

Davis, however, reportedly wants to get around his inexperience with his feet by playing goalie.

UPDATE: Turns out Stein won't be the one on the court who is not a current full-time professional athlete. Nash's good friend Simone Sandri from NBA TV, Italy's Sky TV and the online edition of Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport will also play. Sandri is a midfielder who played soccer at Seton Hall and played professionally in his native Italy for clubs in the third division (his hometown club Novara) and fourth division (Saviglianese). Stein is not without his own credentials, having spent one week on the books of the Dallas Sidekicks of Major Indoor Soccer League fame, in 1999.

Stein explains how the game came about:

Nash spends a good bit of his summers playing soccer in New York and has grown close with Reyna, who moved to Major League Soccer's New York Red Bulls after playing in four World Cups and a long career in Europe that included stints in Germany, Scotland and England. Nash and Reyna are co-hosting the event and a subsequent private auction in SoHo to benefit their respective foundations, billing it as "The Showdown In Chinatown."

Henry and Nash are also close, but the Barcelona striker didn't expect to be available to make a trip to the States this week. That changed when France crashed out early at Euro 2008, placing last in the so-called Group of Death behind the Netherlands, Italy and Romania and managing just one goal -- from Henry -- in three games. ...

The Suns have to come to accept that Nash, 34, will play a lot of soccer in the offseason as a way to keep his body in top condition while also taking a break from competitive basketball. He still schedules regular shooting sessions in the summertime, but the bulk of Nash's regimen features gym work and rec-league soccer.

"I can't wait," Nash said. "Football and my foundation are two of my big passions and the chance to bring together guys like Thierry and Baron and Jason and Claudio ... it's going to be a lot of fun. And the best part is that it's free to anyone who wants to come watch us."

Asked about Nash's soccer habit, Suns president Steve Kerr said: "I have no problem with it. It keeps him in shape and keeps his mind fresh."

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