I Was There: Showdown in Chinatown

Subtitle: How I Endured Rain, Crowds, Loudmouth Arsenal Fans, and a Forgotten Wallet to Take Pictures of Steve Nash Through A Chain Link Fence

The pictures do get better. Mostly.

About a year ago, thanks to a tip from Henry Abbot, I wandered a few blocks down from my work to watch Steve Nash,  Thierry Henry, and a number of other NBA and soccer stars play a charity soccer match in a tiny park in Chinatown.  It was so entertaining, I decided to do it again.

These lucky kids got to stand inside the fence.  And get autographs.

These lucky kids got to stand inside the fence. And get autographs.

Last year, I arrived twenty minutes before game time, and spent most of my time in the back of a four deep crowd. This year, I was almost an hour early, and the pouring rain had thinned the crowd even further. I found myself only behind one line of people at the chain link fence, right at midfield. I waited patiently as the rain finally stopped and the crowds began to form behind me. Then I realized my wallet was missing. After a moment of panic, I was pretty sure I’d left it at work, but it wasn’t the kind of thing I could just not check out right away. So I left my prime viewing location and ran back to the office. Luckily, I did find the wallet, but by the time I returned the crowd looked like this:

Oddly, my Ladies credentials did not get me a pass to the front of the crowd.

Which meant this (NSFW if you have good hearing) was my experience of the first half (be sure to note the Arsenal fans next to me — this clip captures one of their quieter periods)

Fortunately, I knew from last year that a lot of spectators leave at halftime, and I ended up getting back to the second line of the crowd again (although I was farther to one end and couldn’t see the whole field).  Close enough that I could bring you these (passably) good shots of the action:

Henry and Kalou after getting tangled up midfield.

Henry and Kalou after getting tangled up midfield.

Yup that's Grant Hill on the far left. (He did not hurt himself.) That's either Solomon Kalou or Ryan Babel fighting Nash for the ball.

The crowd was a bit smaller than last year but still impressive, given the weather.

This year’s Baron Davis Memorial Award (for the non-soccer player who best wins over the crowd) went to Chris Bosh, who despite never playing soccer before (according to Marc Stein’s Twitter feed) and wandering around head-and-shoulders above everyone else, kicking the ball with his toes like an U6 player, had the entire crowd screaming “Bosh” every time his team had the ball by their goal.  He got two good touches (one a header) towards the end of the game but was unable to convert.

Thierry Henry is 6 2, according to Wikipedia.

Thierry Henry is 6' 2," according to Wikipedia. That's Bosh behind him.

The Showdown in Chinatown benefits Nash’s Football for Good charity, which you can read more about by clicking the link.  You can view a slideshow of all my pictures (such as they are) here. And Marc Stein’s Twitter account has an insider’s view of the whole event (scroll back a few pages to the beginning, it’s worth it).

3 thoughts on “I Was There: Showdown in Chinatown

  1. That is so freakin’ cool! I’m incredibly jealous right now! :) That has to be one of the best charity games. Nash’s eyes kind of freak me out, but I love how he supports the community and footie. And kudos to all the other big stars who came and played-well done men!

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