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2 months ago: PHOENIX - MAY 03: Leandro Barbosa #10 of the Phoenix Suns puts up a shot against the San Antonio Spurs during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 3, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Spurs 111-102 to take a 1-0 series lead. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
These are exciting times on Planet Orange. Exciting, surprising, and mysterious, overwhelming and confusing times. You gotta admit, Robert Sarver can keep his mouth shut and his cards close to his vest. And he's got a pair of stones on him. Who would have thought: Hedo, Childress, Babby? And he traded one of the most devoted, loved Suns in recent memory.
Ask yourself, on a purely emotional, personal, non basketball level, are you more upset about Amare leaving or Leandro being traded?
They're both gone, however losing Leandro is a little different than losing Amare. Leandro had zero ego. Amare liked himself just fine. Leandro always left it out on the court although the traits that made him successful: his speed and aggressiveness sometimes got him in trouble. Amare often got caught watching the game, at times, even looking disinterested.
Leandro was great in the 7SOL Suns. He could catch fire and turn a game around. In '06-'07 Barbosa averaged 33 minutes a game and put up 18 a contest while shooting 47% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. That year he won the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award. Great times. He symbolized the whole speed mantra that Mike D'Antoni preached. The Brazilian Blur was one of the fastest in the game, a great finisher, a consistent threat from 3. He helped solidify a shaky bench and short rotation. He was so special he had his own personal coach and mentor, Dan D'Antoni, who happened to be the head coach's brother. That's some love. Like family.
But the times have changed. D'Antoni is long gone. In his place, Alvin Gentry. 7SOL is dead. In its place is a foreign, hybrid version, the new way. And Leandro must deal with a reality he and many of us and the Suns recognized. He didn't have a place on the refurbished Suns roster. Goran Dragic is the future at point guard. And Leandro didn't have the size, strength, and defensive capability to matchup with the new breed of sizable 2's of the NBA. Let us not forget the financial concerns, which could be of chief importance. Barbosa's play didn't match his contribution, regardless of whether he was injured or a nice guy.
It's not the part of the NBA he wanted. Leandro made Phoenix home. And he wanted to stay here forever. He was a popular guy on the team. Always friendly, always smiling. Yet seeing him throughout the the season, after injuries had taken their toll, it was clear to me that he was unsuccessfully masking his frustration with his inability to stay healthy, coupled with his uncertain place in the rotation. His early exit of the locker room after the last game of this season was evidence to many of us that Barbosa had seen the writing on the wall. He didn't want to talk about the future.
So for now, let us remember the Leandro who pumped in a game winning three against the Bulls:
Leandro Barbosa game winner (via krishanson)
And let us remember his career high 41 points versus the Thunder:
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns 20/02/2009 (Highlights) (via kawasepr)
Let us remember Leandro with braids:
avatar (via stevenash)
And finally, let us remember Leandro's goat impersonation:
All Night Long (via stevenash)
So, onward. Onward into the uncertain future for us Suns fans
and Leandro Barbosa alike. We wish you well.