PHOENIX — Long gone are the days of former Phoenix Suns three-point specialist Quentin Richardson pounding his headband with two fists and flashing three fingers to the crowd after knocking down a triple.
But during Tuesday night’s Game 4 victory Leandro Barbosa reintroduced the three-point celebration to Planet Orange — only when LB crosses his forearms in the shape of an X and holds up three fingers on each hand it symbolizes so much more than just three points.
“It’s a bird, a bird, a white bird,” Barbosa explained after Wednesday’s practice. “That means my mom is still around. So I was doing it for her.”
Barbosa’s mother Ivete passed away in his hometown of Sao Paolo, Brazil, on November 13, 2008, after a six-week bout with pneumonia. She was the closest person in his life and LB struggled mightily with the loss, as the two reportedly talked more than six times a day, and he also lost his father to cancer in 2005.
It’s been about a year and a half since her passing and Tuesday was the first time that Barbosa has implemented anything like this into his game since he lost her. He said Wednesday that he’d been thinking about her and the idea for the white bird came to him in his sleep.
“It came up on my mind,” he said. “I had a dream about that and for some reason I started to do it (Tuesday night).”
Whether it was because of the white bird or not, Barbosa scored 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 2-for-4 marksmanship from three on Tuesday night — his highest scoring output of the playoffs and his highest total overall since April 3.
So when you see the white bird fly through the friendly confines of US Airways Center during the remainder of the playoffs, know that it isn’t just a celebration of Barbosa’s three-pointer, but rather a reminder that his late mother Ivete is still with him in spirit.