Nash, Suns to play exhibition in Vancouver

Victoria native Steve Nash and his Phoenix Suns teammates will face the Portland Trail Blazers in a pre-season NBA match at General Motors Place in Vancouver on Oct. 22.

2-time NBA MVP also hosting soccer match featuring NBA stars

Between a charity soccer match and a NBA exhibition game, Steve Nash will be making several trips to Vancouver this fall.

Nash and his Phoenix Suns teammates will face the Portland Trail Blazers in a pre-season match at General Motors Place on Oct. 22.

The two-time NBA most valuable player will also host the Showdown in Downtown, an eight-a-side soccer match featuring some NBA stars and retired European professional soccer players, on Sept. 19 in Vancouver.

"I'm really excited about my two trips to B.C.," Nash said on a conference call Wednesday. "To play another exhibition game at GM Place doesn't make up for playing the Grizzlies twice a year, but it goes a long way toward making me happy."

Raised in Victoria, Nash will also receive an honorary degree from the University of Victoria on Sept. 18.

"All the books and essays and contributions I've given to modern science, it's the least they could do," Nash joked.

"It's an honour. I don't want to sound like a jerk [but] I've been offered a lot of honorary degrees but this is the only one I've accepted. The University of Victoria has a special place in my heart, growing up in that gym and living so close to campus."

Money raised from the soccer game will go to the Steve Nash Foundation's BC Grants platform, which funds child-focused services throughout the province.

Partial proceeds from the exhibition game will also be donated to the foundation, Canucks Sports and Entertainment, owners of GM Place, said in a release.

The Suns played an exhibition game against the Seattle SuperSonics at GM Place in October of 2007. It was the first NBA game in the building since the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis after the 2000-01 season.

The soccer game will be held on a field in Yaletown, one of downtown Vancouver's trendiest neighbourhoods, near the waterfront.

Nash, a minority shareholder in Vancouver's Major League Soccer team, which begins play in 2011, didn't want to say who would participate in the celebrity match.

He confirmed at least one former World Cup winner would attend, along with some current NBA players.

"Some friends of mine," he said.

Members of the Vancouver Whitecaps residency program will participate, along with his brother Martin, who also plays for the Whitecaps.

Nash, who recently agreed to a $22-million US extension to stay with Phoenix through the 2011-12 season, has hosted similar games in New York City.