Not only was Wednesday’s Suns-Raptors game in Vancouver a homecoming for Steve Nash, but it was also one of sorts for Leandro Barbosa.
The “Brazilian Blur,” who was traded to the Raptors in a deal that brought Hedo Turkoglu to Phoenix, said that he was extremely “nervous” about playing against his Suns friends. The entire ordeal was a surreal one for LB.
“It’s very weird man, I don’t know how it’s going to be, but the only thing I know is that I’m very nervous and excited,” Barbosa told Suns.com before the game. “I miss everybody, my teammates, the city the fans.”
Barbosa spent seven years in the Valley, averaging 11 points and 2.1 assists on 39 percent shooting from downtown in his tenure. The 6-3 guard captured the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2006-07.
“I didn’t get to talk to the fans after I left Phoenix,” he said. “I will always have them in my heart.”
LB, who was very popular with his former teammates, received hugs and handshakes from all of them before the game. Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry even good-naturedly chastised him about not returning his texts.
“I’ll miss the relationships in the locker room the most,” LB said. “We used to have good chemistry and energy in the locker room. The guys would say funny things and funny things used to happen a lot.”
Barbosa said that he still manages to keep in touch with Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and strength and conditioning coach Mike Elliot. Dudley even went down to Brazil over the summer to visit him.
The former Sun, who now wears No. 20 for the Raptors, has been bothered by an ankle injury throughout the preseason. He said he’ll be healthy by the time the regular season rolls around.
Barbosa will make his official return to the Valley on March 23.