When Steve Nash's team flight landed overnight, it was not his first return to Phoenix.

When Nash spends time Wednesday with his 2-year-old son and 8-year-old daughters, it will be only the latest of interstate reunions.

When Nash traverses the visitors' tunnel to the US Airways Center court in gold, this trip will become unique.

Nash, perhaps the most popular Suns player ever, returns Wednesday night to the arena where he left to chants of "We want Steve" in April and where he left a two-time Most Valuable Player's imprints for eight years.

"It's a very special place to me," Nash said. "I can't wait to get back and see everybody. So many great memories, great seasons and relationships that mean the world to me. I'm thrilled to come back and play. But in some respects, it'll be strange to not wear a Suns uniform."

Once Nash knew the Suns would not offer him a chance to continue his reign as Phoenix's king of the court, he requested a sign-and-trade deal to the Los Angeles Lakers to stay close to his children. They live with their mother in the Valley, far away from free-agency options in Toronto and New York.

This season, Nash has made day trips to see the kids four times and they joined him in Manhattan Beach for six extended stays.

"I'd do that 10 times out of 10 just so I could see my kids almost frequently," Nash said.