J J Barea: Little guy who plays big

J J Barea: Little guy who plays big

Credit: AP PHOTO

J J Barea takes a hit from Andrew Byunum in game four of the Western Conference Semifinals. (AP Photo/Tony Guti�rrez)

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by GEORGE RIBA/WFAA TV

wfaa.com

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 17 at 4:40 PM

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DALLAS, TX - Mavericks fans know they have something special in Mavericks guard J.J Barea. Fans use words such as toughness, amazing and courageous when describe him.

"If you look at JJ, he's not fast, but he's quick," says Mavericks guard Jason Terry.
 
Barea has become an important piece to the Mavericks puzzle. He brings a pesky style of play to both ends of the floor. It was enough to send Lakers Center Andrew Bynum over the edge in game four of the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite the punishment, Barea never gives up.
 
"Oh, no, I’m going to keep driving and I’m going to keep getting hit," Barea says."It's just what happens."

"I think a lot of the times JJ gets to where he wants to go because people underestimate him," says Terry."They look at him. He's short, he's doesn't look fast and when you do that, he's going to attack you and kill you."
 
"I think since I’ve been here, he's shown us that he can play at a high level," says Mavericks guard Jason Kidd."Maybe now he's starting to get the recognition but he's been doing it for us for a while. It’s not a surprise to us."
 
When Barea enters the paint occupied by the giants of the game, those watching can't help but turn their heads in amazement.
 
"He looks like he's tree feet tall when he's next to all those guys," says Mavericks fan Belinda Harden. "He's just fast, he's a fast guy. He can weave in and out of those big guys. They're too big to catch up with him.
 
"He's got no size. Apparently it doesn't matter," says Mavericks fan Alex Godina."When you've got big guys taking you down hard, it shows that you’re getting under their skin. He’s like a little gnat."
 
"That's how you play ball," says Mavericks fan Sean Allen."I'm glad he's figured it out. For a while I had given up on JJ too. I'm proud of the young man. JJ, keep it up buddy!"
 
"That's my game," Barea says."I've been doing it all my life. It really doesn't change. That's what I do and that's what helps the team too so I've just got to keep doing it. You've got to read the defense, you've got to have control of the ball, you've got to stay aggressive, stay positive and just keep trying."
 
While defenders have had trouble keeping up with Barea, Zuleyka Rivera has found a way. Who is she? She's Barea's girl friend.
 
Rivera was Miss Universe in 2006 and like Barea, was born in Puerto Rico. Luis Perez from ESPN Deportes, says the couple has been taking their homeland by a storm.
 
"They're the hottest couple in Puerto Rico," Perez says."She's 2006 Miss Universe, she's been active, she's been doing Novelas, Soap Operas, and she's been a model, so it's not like she's been out of the picture for the last four years. JJ has been working hard, going from two minutes to getting 20 minutes average more than 10 points in the last 50 games and now he's doing it in the playoffs, so it's just huge."

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