Leandro Barbosa grew up in rough conditions in Brazil. So, when he toured the Suns’ arena after going No. 28 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Barbosa was smitten. He slept on the floor of the locker room that night.
Barbosa spent the next 14 years savoring his NBA experience.
Now, Barbosa – who won 2007 Sixth Man of the Year a championship ring in 2015 – is retiring.
I couldn’t tell exactly when basketball first crossed my path, but for over 20 years my life has revolved around the orange ball. Any high-performance athlete knows what I’m talking about, but for the vast majority of people it is never enough to stress that this means giving up a lot and doing so for a very long time, difficult decisions and sacrifices must be made along the way. At first, it all seems a hefty price, but it is soon replaced by the sweet taste of both achievement and victory.
I consider myself a winner. I left a rough neighborhood in São Paulo, Brazil, to play 850 games in the largest basketball league on the planet and more than 100 games defending my home country in four FIBA Basketball World Cups, and two Olympic Games. I have also earned a NBA Champion ring. I was the first Brazilian to have ever received an individual award in the NBA, in addition to being a Brazilian Champion. … Oh boy! I can’t help but be proud of my trajectory. I believe I managed to have played at a high level for all these years, so much that I bid farewell as the highest scorer of the last NBB (the New Brazilian Basketball league).
I guess I am ready for a new beginning, a new road, nevertheless I will continue with the good old orange ball. The transition will be quick, as it always has been to me. It is a great joy to announce my return to the Golden State Warriors as a PLAYER MENTOR COACH. I have no doubts I will feel right at home, after all, it was always like that as a player and it has been that way ever since.
I couldn’t be more motivated and engaged. I know that I will be surrounded by brilliant professionals and I will do everything in my power to collaborate with the development of players and with the entire organization.
I am very grateful for the invitation and mainly for the confidence they have placed in the work that I can do.
Barbosa had some very productive years in Phoenix. The guard finished seventh, first, second and 10th in Sixth Man of the Year voting in a four-year span.
Nicknamed “The Brazilian Blur” for his quickness and “Leandrinho” for his small size, Barbosa both attacked the rim aggressively and shot well from outside.
His limitations as a defender and playmaker prevented him from ever becoming a starter. He became a journeyman, playing for the Raptors, Pacers, Suns again, Celtics, Warriors and Suns yet again. Barbosa last played in the NBA in 2017. He had since been playing in Brazil (where he tested positive for coronavirus in April).
Outside Phoenix, Barbosa made his biggest mark in Golden State. He played his best basketball in years in 2015, and his “we gonna be championship” statement proved prophetic.
In his career, Barbosa showed how to focus amid wavering confidence, work hard and develop as a player. His attitude earned him plenty of friends around the league. He could help the Warriors in his new coaching role.
Former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa retires originally appeared on NBCSports.com