Two Articles about The Blur

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Two Articles about The Blur

Post by bobheckler on Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:33 am

Leandrinho. The Brazilian Blur. LB.

Leandro Barbosa has many different nicknames, but to anyone who has ever met the man, only one word will do.

Leandro Barbosa has provided a spark off the bench for the Celtics this season. (AP)


“There was nobody who didn’t like LB,” said Jack McCallum,
the longtime Sports Illustrated journalist and author of “Seven Seconds
or Less,” a phenomenal snapshot of the Suns team — and the league —
during the 2005-06 season. ”LB was loved. He had a kind of innocence
about him, and a real work ethic with the way he approached
everything. He looked at himself as kind of an open book whereas a lot
of guys who come into the NBA — guys without LB’s ability or talent —
think they know everything, but LB was never like that.”

Barbosa, who celebrates his 30th birthday Wednesday, grew up in São
Paulo, the world’s seventh largest city by population, and a hotbed for

“I’m from Brazil, so everybody knows about soccer,” said Barbosa,
whose subtle accent still creeps up in conversation. ”I used to play
when I was a little kid, but I decide to play a different sport.”

Barbosa, the youngest of five children, wanted to play basketball for a pretty simple reason. His brother played.

“My brother Arturo played professionally,” Barbosa
said. ”I always was around him; whatever he was doing, I wanted to do
the same thing. I decided to play basketball because of him. Arturo
started teaching me how to play.”

Arturo, 20 years older than Barbosa, became a driving force in his little brother’s basketball career.

“Arturo was a pretty tough taskmaster,” McCallum said. ”I don’t think
those of us in the States really understand much about how kids in
other countries learn the game. We just know they learn the game
differently. LB still has scars from Arturo.”

McCallum wasn’t talking figuratively. If Barbosa made a mistake in
his ball-handling drills, there were consequences. Arturo would whack
him with a stick.

“I had to be quick with the ball, quick with my hands, because if I
wasn’t, he slapped with me the stick,” said Barbosa, who still bears the
scars on both hands. ”At the time, as a kid, I was crying. I didn’t
know why he was doing that. But if it wasn’t for all the work he put in,
I don’t think I’d be here in the NBA. Those drills still stay with me.”

Looking back, Barbosa has a fondness for the lessons his brother imparted.

“I remember many times, a day before I have a game, he used to make
me dress up, have my shoes tied up, have the uniform on and the ball in
my hands, so I would think about what I would do the next day in the
game,” Barbosa said with a smile. ”So when I come to the game, I just
play and have fun. It was kind of crazy at that time, but I know why he
did it.”

Leandro Barbosa broke into the NBA with the Suns in 2003 after making a name
for himself with his play for Brazil in international tournaments. (AP)

Barbosa was discovered at the 2002 World Games in Indianapolis,
following two impressive seasons in Brazil’s pro league. He had kept in
touch with fellow Brazilian Nenê Hilário, who was playing with the Nuggets.

“I had a dream,” Barbosa said. ”A couple of times I had an opportunity to go to my friend’s house with a TV and see Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird play. I had a dream to come to the NBA, but I didn’t know if it was
going to happen. Nene wanted me to come to the NBA, and his agent
started to follow me. After the World Championships, in the middle of
the season in Brazil, he signed me and I flew to America and my name
went to the draft.”

Drafted by the Spurs as the 28th selection of the 2003 draft, Barbosa
immediately was dealt to the Suns. Over the past decade, playing for
the Suns, Raptors and Pacers before signing a one-year deal with the
Celtics this fall, Barbosa has grown up in the league. He’s evolved from
a 20-year old who spoke no English to a fluid-speaking father of a
3-year-old daughter with another baby on the way.

On the court, he proved he could score right from the beginning.
During his rookie season he netted 27 points against the Bulls on Jan.
5, 2004, in his first career start. In 2007 he was named the NBA’s Sixth
Man of the Year after averaging a career-high 18.1 points and 4.0
assists (and 15.8 points in Phoenix’s 11 playoff games). He scored a
career-high 41 points vs. the Thunder on Feb. 20, 2009. For his career,
he’s averaging 12.4 points and shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.

It all started in Phoenix, which proved to be the right fit for an
eager 6-foot-3 speedster who was welcomed into the Suns family.

“Playing in Phoenix was just great,” Barbosa said. ”They really
respect me and help me as a friend. It was a crazy situation: As a
little kid, I used to watch them, and now I play beside them.”

Said McCallum: “LB’s desire to be one of the guys, even though the
language barrier and the culture barrier crept up once in a while, was
really endearing. You could always see LB trying desperately to
understand everything, to try to immerse himself in the culture. At the
end of the day, he was just a very, very endearing guy.”

The international flavor of the Suns helped Barbosa adjust to life in the NBA.

“Leandro was my best friend on the team,” said Frenchman Boris Diaw,
a current member of the Spurs. ”Being international, we were both
talking with strong accents. We were hanging out together a lot, but
everyone loved Leandro.”

Steve Nash also was a big influence on Barbosa’s career.

“Everything Nash liked, I like too,” Barbosa said. “He likes soccer,
and many times after practice we used to kick the ball and then a couple
of other players came and began enjoying it. We have a really close
relationship. He’s a great guy. He made things really happen for me on
the court, he was always looking for me when we ran, and we used to run a
lot. It was a great team.”

The final key to Barbosa’s success also took place in Phoenix. Dan D’Antoni, the older brother of then-Suns coach (and current Lakers coach) Mike D’Antoni, joined the Phoenix coaching staff in time for the 2005-06 season. A
legendary West Virginia high school coach with more than 500 victories,
D’Antoni struck a friendship with Barbosa that is one of the main
reasons Barbosa still is in the league today.

“It was Danny’s first year in the pros,” McCallum explained. ”Mike
[D’Antoni] never really told me this, but Danny was an outsider. He had
been a high school coach for 9,000 years. So Mike sort of instinctively
saw Danny and LB as two outsiders who needed each other. It was just
such a natural pairing, and their relationship really helped them get
indoctrinated to the NBA.”

The affection Dan D’Antoni holds for Barbosa to this day remains strong.

“Leandro wanted to become an NBA player, but at the time I got there,
he was struggling to get on the NBA court,” D’Antoni said. “I had loved
coaching high school. High school kids are there to be molded and want
to be molded, and you really get a chance to affect their lives, so that
part of it is really rewarding. Leandro was there to be molded.”

Added D’Antoni: “Leandro needed the confidence that what he was and
who he was was good enough to be in the NBA. He was trying to mimic
other NBA players, and I was trying to convince him that approach is a
short path to failure. You’ve got to be yourself. There are certain
skills that he had that got him to this level, and if he applied them in
the NBA game in the right places, then he’d become an NBA player. He
was such a great young man looking to learn, and I happened to be the
guy in the right spot at the right time.”

Barbosa played for club teams while he was in high school to help support his family. He never had a coach quite like D’Antoni.

“Coach D’Antoni is more than a friend to me,” Barbosa said. ”I
compare him to a second father. We have a great relationship, and I
appreciate everything he did for me.”

Though his life has changed dramatically over the last 10 years in the NBA, Barbosa’s humble roots still remain.

“I’m very happy,” said Barbosa, “and very grateful to be here.”



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Re: Two Articles about The Blur

Post by bobheckler on Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:36 am

WALTHAM — Leandro Barbosa has heard the time-tested
expression in basketball over and over: defense wins championships. Now,
after nine full seasons in the NBA, the 29-year-old finally is on a
team that believes it.

Growing up in Brazil and playing his formative NBA seasons in
Phoenix, Barbosa was all about getting to the basket at all costs but
the defensive side of his game was admittedly not a priority. When he
signed with the Celtics on Oct. 18, all of that changed.

“It’s different,” Barbosa said after practice on Tuesday.
“Especially, for me, I came in late. I’m trying to work really hard to
pick things up really quick. I’m happy to be involved, and we’re doing
better. Hopefully, next game we’ll do even better.

“I feel great. I think the most important thing is to feel
comfortable. I think I’m feeling that right now. The coaches talk to me
in a lot of different ways, in an offensive standpoint and an offensive
standpoint. I’m just enjoying it right now.”

Barbosa said the biggest change in his philosophy came from the coaching staff.

“I think this is the first team that is a defensive team, and I’m
happy because I know that I have to definitely be better on the
defensive end,” Barbosa said. “From where I come from, we don’t play
defense, and I’m talking about Brazil. So, we’re getting better. I’m
very happy and getting myself better.

“What I learned, when you play defense, everything comes automatic.
Especially, on this team we have so many weapons, I don’t think we don’t
have to worry about offense. To go to the championship, we have to play
better d
efense. That’s what we’re looking for and what we’re working



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Re: Two Articles about The Blur

Post by sinus007 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:31 pm

Thanks for the articles.
I think LB did show some progress in the D dept. Especially in the last game.


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Re: Two Articles about The Blur

Post by Sam on Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:49 pm


I like the fact that Leandro chose to mention that defense has to become automatic. I've used the word "instinctive" many times. It's not enough to know how to play excellent defense. A player has to get repetition after repetition so that he acts or reacts without having to take the time to think. And "chemistry" is just a nice word until all five players on the court are acting on collective instinct.


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