Heres a cool article I thought I'd share with you guys.
Barbosa Returns From Enjoyable Camp
By Brad G. Faye, Suns.com
There were a number of visible changes at the 2009 Phoenix Suns Training Camp compared to the one held just one year prior. A new host city, a new head coach with a new philosophy, a new pair of rookies and a new starting center were among the ones most discussed. But perhaps the most overlooked difference from last year’s camp was the one involving a player preparing for his seventh season with the team.
While veteran Leandro Barbosa is no stranger to Suns Training Camp itself, his presence after missing the 2008 camp to be with his ailing mother was easy to sense. Wherever there was laughter; be it on the team bus, at the team hotel or at practice, there was Leandro Barbosa. More importantly, was how contagious that laughter quickly became.
“I’m very happy to be here again, especially after last year when I was not able to be here with these guys,” Barbosa said. “I’ve been trying my best to not think about last year when I couldn’t be here for this experience and just enjoying it as much as I can. I definitely have a new appreciation for training camp.”
When it comes to training camps, “appreciation” isn’t a word a lot of players throw around. There’s a lot of conditioning, a lot of learning new plays and a lot of playing basketball against the same opponent over and over again. Regardless, Barbosa says he has enjoyed each and every minute of it.
“It has been a lot of running but we know that’s what we have to do if we want to get into the right shape,” the guard said. “This training camp for us has been about getting in shape but we don’t complain because we’re running again and that’s just what we like to do. We’re tired, but everybody on this team is pushing themselves which is great.”
Nobody appeared to be having more fun running at the 2009 training camp than Barbosa. But while his teammates appeared to be the ones feeding off the energy of the “Brazilian Blur,” Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said it could quite easily be the other way around.
“I think Leandro is a different kid,” Griffin said of his sixth man. “He’s a very intuitive person and he feels negative energy. And you can tell that right now he feels nothing but positive energy so it means a lot for him. He’s very sensitive emotionally and he knows when something is wrong.”
Griffin also said that one of the key reasons why Barbosa is feeling so good is because under new Head Coach Alvin Gentry, the team has returned to doing what it does best – running.
“There’s no question he has a new appreciation for training camp,” Griffin said. “Not just because of what he went through last year, but because he knows what we’re doing here in training camp is what we’re all about and is what best fits his game. He knows how vital he is going to be in this system. Anytime you’re doing something that isn’t second nature for you, you’re more concerned about your role in it and he understands exactly where his offense is going to come from and he understands exactly what’s being asked of him.”
With Barbosa questioning how he would best fit in with last season’s team combined with the off-the-court turmoil, it was no surprise to see the numbers for the 2007 Sixth Man of the Year drop in points, assists and rebounds in 2008-09.
“I don’t care how mentally tough you are, going through a season off the court like Barbosa did is going to have an affect on you,” Gentry said. “With us starting training camp while his mom was gravely ill and him having to go back and forth during that time to Brazil all the way up to her passing away, that’s tough.”
But now, back to the smiling and fun-loving LB the Suns are used to, teammates expect No. 10 to carry those positive vibes back onto the court once again.
“LB has always been one of the fastest basketball players in the league,” forward Amar’e Stoudemire said, “but once he started developing his shot from the outside, he’s become even more difficult to stop. It’s hard to stop a guy that quick and stay in front of him, especially when you know he’s also capable of scoring from the outside.”
Steve Nash agreed, “He’s a huge weapon for us. His speed is unbelievable and he obviously has an ability to score. On any given night he can get you 20 points and it’s important to have those kinds of guys on this team. I think he’s continuing to mature and it’s shown on the court here in training camp.”
A large reason for that maturity are the positive things which have been taking place for Barbosa off the court a year after dealing with one of the worst tragedies of his life, namely, becoming a father for the first time.
“Last year was so tough losing my mother, but knowing that I had a baby on the way really kept me going,” Barbosa said. “It really does change your life. I wake up a little bit more during the night now, but everything I do for her I do with all my heart so it’s okay. Things are totally different now and I’m happy and having fun again. I really don’t know how to explain it other than to say that being a parent changes your life.”
Gentry added, “Knowing he had a baby on the way was kind of like a light at the end of the tunnel during that time. Now he’s the father of a beautiful young daughter, and I’m sure he hates that his mom isn’t around to see her, but there are so many positive things going on in his life, you can see his attitude turning and that was apparent here at training camp this season.”
But even though he’s being considered a more mature person, the young kid inside Barbosa that makes him a locker room favorite is alive and well, and his teammates couldn’t be happier.
“Every teammate is important,” Stoudemire said. “But I’ve been with Leandro since his rookie year, so I have a great understanding of what type of guy he is. He has a great personality and he’s fun to hang around which is appreciated over the course of such a long season.”
This marked Lou Amundson’s first training camp with Barbosa, but the product out of UNLV said he hasn’t taken for granted how much fun it has been having him around.
“He’s just a fun guy to be around and is great at keeping everybody going,” Amundson said. “I always knew he was an energetic player on the court, but off the court he carries that same energy. I think that was something this team really missed last year during training camp, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to be around it this season.”
Forward Alando Tucker agreed, “He and I have gotten really close in the time I’ve been here. His presence was definitely missed during last year’s camp because he’s such a fun guy who makes everybody around him smile. It was also tough because we all knew what he was dealing with and any time you watch somebody in your family hurting it’s going to affect you.
“But being a proud father and having a new baby girl in his life has really lifted his heart. He always shows off pictures and talks about her, so everybody knows he’s doing well and it’s been great to see. To have him here fully healthy and strong mentally has been big for everybody on this team.”