At his best, Leandro Barbosa was an absolute joy to watch. A 6’3 guard who could score in bunches and blow by dudes like it was nothing, Barbosa is among the best NBA players to ever come from Brazil. Sure, he wasn’t exactly stellar with the Phoenix Suns this year, but the 34-year-old is nicknamed “The Brazilian Blur” for a reason.
Barbosa wrote a story for The Players’ Tribune today titled “I Have to Tell You a Story About the Big Nude Cactus,” which really is a tremendous headline. The entire thing is great. The headline alludes to a story Barbosa has about Shaq running around naked, which is fantastic, but the real star of the piece are Barbosa’s stories about his relationship with Stephon Marbury.
Barbosa explained how he learned to speak English with the help of Stephon Marbury, rap, and trash talk.
I met Stephon that afternoon. He asked me about my mama, my brother and how we were all adjusting to life in America. Over my first couple of months in Phoenix he took me under his wing. I’d spend hours at his house playing video games and chillin’. Whenever we went anywhere, he’d drive us in one of his fancy cars. I still couldn’t speak much English, which I think he liked because he could say anything to me. But when he played rap in the car … then we spoke the same language.
I knew the same music he did. Jay, Snoop, Dre, all those guys. My rapping was pretty bad, but Steph loved it. He’d turn the sound system all the way up in his Range Rover. Steph had so many cars. They were all so nice.
He even taught me English! Well … just the bad words. But he taught me how to use them, like in a good way — a trash-talking way.
He would be like: “Look, Leandro, this is how you use these words. So, when a game starts, look the guy you are guarding in the eyes. Look right into the back of his eyes. If he puts his head down, then you’ve won already. You’re on top of him. Go out and kick his ass. Then you start talking your shit. Say whatever you want to say. Get in his head.”
Two quick things here: First, both of these stories are hilarious, but they’re also fantastic. The first anecdote is especially great, as it ends with Marbury getting Barbosa a brand new Escalade as a gift. Two, Marbury really was awesome. There’s not much to say beyond that.
Anyway, this entire story really is fantastic, and it’s the kind of thing that will make you love Barbosa. And because I cannot reiterate this enough, Shaq is described as “butt-ass naked” at one point, so it really is worth your time.
(Via The Players’ Tribune)