(Barry Gossage/NBAE Photos)
NBA Sixth Man of the Year
Posted: April 23, 2007
Suns guard Leandro Barbosa was named the winner of the 2006-07 NBA Sixth Man Award, honoring the league’s top player in a reserve role.
Barbosa received 101 of a possible 127 first-place votes, from a panel of 127 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs finished second and Jerry Stackhouse of the Dallas Mavericks placed third. In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started.
"I love it," Barbosa said of his role, coming off the bench. "This has been good. It’s a fun team and we’ve won so many games. Coach Mike D’Antoni has given me so many minutes and I try to do everything right, so I can stay there on the court. I’m happy. I’m very, very happy.
"I was happy to hear that my name was the Sixth Man of the Year. I wasn’t believing (that I would win) until that happened... Today it happened and I think it is one of the best days of my life."
The fourth-year guard from Brazil becomes the fourth Suns player to win NBA Sixth Man honors, joining Eddie Johnson (1988-89), Danny Manning (1997-98) and Rodney Rogers (1999-00). Since the award’s inception in 1982-83, the Boston Celtics are the only other franchise to have had a winner on even three separate occasions – Kevin McHale (1983-84 and 1984-85) and Bill Walton (1985-86).
"This is one of the really good guys of the league," said D'Antoni of his Sixth Man. "It's just really been a privilege coaching him and watching him mature into a great player."
A reserve in 62 of 80 games played this season, Barbosa averaged 18.1 points, 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds. He posted career highs in scoring, assists, steals (1.20), three-point field goals made (190) and minutes played (32.7). Barbosa scored 20 or more points in 33 games this season, surpassing his total from his first three seasons combined (13).
Barbosa set new individual game career highs in points (32. vs. Charlotte on March 7 and again vs. Houston on March 12), rebounds (10 vs. Philadelphia, Nov. 17), assists (12 vs. Memphis, Nov. 11) and three point field goals (seven vs. Charlotte, March 7). He also notched three consecutive double-doubles (Nov. 11 vs. Memphis, Nov. 17 vs. Philadelphia and Nov. 18 at Utah) after not notching a single one in his first 196 career games.