In addition to always being the smallest player on the floor during this postseason, J.J. Barea is also the most annoying. I say this not as an insult, but with appreciation and respect. As a basketball fan, can you think of a more frustrating player to watch kill your team than Barea? He’s tiny and tough, fearless and fast and can get to the hoop with such ease you find yourself uttering very bad words in a voice you usually wouldn’t dare use in public.

Baskets by Barea will break your team’s back and cripple their spirit. They also give his Mavs a boost that cannot always be accurately measured by personal stats, points scored or +/-. Some how, some way, Barea gets to the hoop, weaves circles around his defenders and leaves opposing coaches with hands thrown up in frustration and disgust.

It’s what he does. Against the Lakers in Game 2, Barea came off of the bench to play 17 minutes where he scored 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go along with four assists. He also was given the postgame interview. J.J. Barea as the postgame interview in a playoff game. J.J. Barea hanging with Cheryl Miler. Yes.

And it makes me happy. I know what you’re thinking — of course it makes me happy. Which player succeeding doesn’t make me happy? If we’re being honest, there are a few who grate on my nerves after seeing them be jerks when it was entirely unnecessary, but that’s neither here nor there. About Barea, I kind of almost owe him.

In university, I worked as the manager of the basketball team. To prove I knew a little bit about basketball — and to show how eager I was to learn more — I submitted a scouting report from the under-21 Tournament of the Americas which took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2004. Yes, I was such a happy girl, watching Chris Paul and Peter John Ramos — remember him? — and Charlie Villanueva. The guy who shone brighter than everyone, though, was Jose Juan Barea.

With two triple-doubles, Barea led the Puerto Rico team to a gold medal game against the United States where he finished with 27 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals in 35 minutes. In comparison, Chris Paul finished with eight points, eight assists, three rebound and two steals in 38 minutes. Kinda fun.

It probably didn’t help that after cheering my heart out for Barea as he notched his first triple-double, I discovered his family was sitting in the row behind me with their country’s flags. After shared smiles and cheers, I was sold. I loved that guy. And, he was going to make it. He had to.

I wrote my scouting report on J.J. Barea’s game (sadly, I can’t find the report on the gaggle of flash drives I checked), and finished it by saying I thought he would indeed make it to the league. My coach was impressed with my report — at the very least he knew I loved the game enough to wash 12 other people’s laundry every day for four years — and I got the gig.

Seven years since that tournament and four years since Barea cracked the Mavs roster, it still makes me happy to see him doing well. Averaging 9.5 points and 3.9 assists in 20 minutes per game, he’s doing alright. Earlier this season during a morning shootaround in Toronto, I asked Barea about Halifax and we shared wistful smiles, his thinking about his 24.8 points, 7.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game he averaged over that tourney, me thinking about my home.

In short: Barea’s been a baller — a hella wicked baller, in fact. And with every layup he makes in this postseason, I feel a little bit of pride for believing he’d make it here.

Well, it’s either pride, or pleasure in being right. Regardless, it’s fun.

Comments (16)

  1. Great article, I totally agree. I can’t help but root for him until he’s playing the Knicks, when he suddenly turns into my least favorite player in the league.

  2. hella wicked? canadians done got themselves some real funny talk y’all.

  3. She was just playing on Barea’s “They were setting hella screens” comment. English is his second language. Give him a break.

  4. Give her (!) a break ;-)

    I remember a short clip on NBA tv showcasing Barea’s move from D-League to the mavs. At that time I thought it was cool to see you don’t have to be a freaking monster to play in the league :-D

  5. @Irwin I said it because I loved it! I couldn’t help but smile when he was sounding like a Cali kid saying “hella screens” after the Mavs Game 2 victory. I quite enjoy the word hella and I’ve used it a lot this past week all thanks to JJB.
    @nicktc you made me laugh out loud with that one.

  6. Awesome article, and great insight on Barea.

  7. It’s funny that the other guys spend so much time making fun of players and bozos while you are the one always doing the opposite. Nice read.

  8. did anyone catch how he stared down Odom after Odom body-checked Nowitzki ? I swear he was ready to go after him, the guy is baaaad.

    Also screw you Bynum. Glad he came away unharmed.

    If Barea was 6´2 with regular-length arms he´d be close to all star material with that skill set of his.

  9. Great Article! So happy to see a fellow hispanic, who is an totally undersized PG, make it! Also great to see him shine in the big stage!

  10. I’m very proud of Jose Juan Barea! I hope they win the championship!

  11. Good Job Dallas, you put the beat down on LA fair and square. i ain’t even mad, the lakers gave us 3 years of finals appearances and 2 championships they spoiled us. I feel bad for gasol tho, if it wasnt for him we wouldn’t have those 2 ‘ships but im pretty sure he’s gonna get the lion’s share of the blame from the fans. Anyways this moment is all about the mavericks and now i hope u guys get the championship you were robbed of, hopefully against miami for sweet justice.

    time to get on that clipper bandwagon! (just joking, i know that’s what the majority of other fans would expect of laker fans haha haters gon’ hate)

  12. After several years’ worth of saying, “I can’t believe we’re letting BAREA do this to us!” every time he’d torch the Spurs, I realized that I wasn’t the only one saying it.

    That meant, of course, that it wasn’t JUST the Spurs he was doing that to. Which made me realize that it shouldn’t be so difficult to believe after all.

    Yup. It wasn’t until early this year that I was able to admit that J.J. was legit. Embarrassing, really.

  13. i don’t like jj barea. i actually hate his guts. not because of this series. i hated him long before. he doesn’t even look baller. he looks like he works in a cubical picking up calls.

    Even though i hate him, i gotta give him props for going through the bullshit lakers(im a laker fan) put him through. like artest’s closeline(which hurt odom also) and bynum’s cheap shot.

    don’t get me wrong. i still hate him.

    and watching lakers get destroyed by him and the pick and roll really adds to my hatred of him. and now that lakers have lost to the mavs and barea i just feel sad :[

    but i gotta give the man credit. mad props and respect to barea.

  14. GREAT ARTICLE! those stats of the under21 tournament are priceless

  15. JJB’s(Northeastern) part of a pretty solid group of pro’s from the CAA. Eric Maynor(OKC Thunder-VCU) and the Spurs(Gary Neal-Towson) also in the NBA. Larry Sanders(VCU-Bucks) came into the league a year after so he doesn’t “count” as someone JJB played against.

    As someone who watched him excel from the start in college it’s pretty impressive. I just wish NU would retire his number already…

  16. I LOVE JJ BAREA!!!! Shortest guy ever, espesially next to Nowitzki <3…he makes me a Mavericks an.

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