J.J. Barea: the Man, the Myth, the Legend

“The only person with a J.J. Barea jersey is J.J. Barea … and maybe his mother!” Those were the words said to me by two friends who had just attended a Dallas Mavericks game in 2007.  While attending said Mavs game, the two began what can only be described as a hotly-contested debate over whether or not anyone other than J.J. Barea owned a J.J. Barea jersey.

This debate, as it was described to me, took place while the two waited in line for the bathroom between quarters.  At the time, J.J. Barea was a rookie; a third-string point guard who held towels for those kids who clean the court every time a fan spills their popcorn and beer. In 2007, J.J. Barea was to the NBA what Afusipa Taumoepeau* is to the Super 15 comp in 2011.

Fast forward four years and J.J. Barea, whose own mother says he’s barely 5’10, has averaged 10 points while playing only 20 minutes a game in 2011. Coming off the bench for future Hall-of-Famer, Jason Kidd, Barea brings an element to the game that is hard to define.

The two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kobe Bryant and coached by Phil Jackson, had no answer for the Puerto Rican-born, Northeastern University alum — I know, a serious basketball powerhouse. This is a guy who earlier in the season had trouble convincing stadium security that he was actually a player and not a crazed fan trying to sneak into the locker room to sniff Dirk’s size 16s.

Barea in towel boy mode.

Against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, Barea again managed to stroll through the paint time after time, with players over a foot taller shying away from him like a venereal disease. Chris Bosh however, didn’t seem to mind; the Miami power forward is the only person who has managed to consistently reject him in the finals so far…

Barea averaged 12 points in just 18 minutes per game in the Conference Semifinals and is currently starting in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. Seriously, please help me understand how a guy who sounds like he just took my order at Taco Bell is making Kobe, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade look like the Aussie cricketers in last year’s Ashes?

Berea is in the final year of his contract with Dallas, a contract that currently pays him $1,815,000.00 a year. That’s almost half of a 2011 NRL team’s salary cap. As if that wasn’t enough, the 26 year-old is currently dating Miss Universe 2006, Zulekya Rivera.

Scoring on and off the court... Zuleyka Riveria, Miss Universe 2006.

Not only is this diminutive Puerto Rican’s salary higher than Sonny Bill Williams’, but he’s also going home with the hottest chick in the world (at least she was in ’06)! Are you kidding me?!?!?!

And, yes, he can dunk. It’s little bit like discovering a hamster is hung like a horse. Surprising, but you’re nonetheless impressed.

So forget about King James, Jose Juan Barea … the man, the myth, the legend.

No word, yet, if J.J. Barea’s mother does in fact have a J.J. Barea jersey. 

* Incidentally, Afusipa Taumoepeau is a reserve back for the Melbourne Rebels (but you already knew that).

By R.J. Karas with Mike Davis