J.J. Barea has won the 2017-18 J. Walter Kennedy Award from the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The Dallas Mavericks guard received the honor, named after the NBA’s second commissioner and awarded annually to a player, coach, or trainer for outstanding service and dedication to the community, for his disaster relief efforts in Puerto Rico. Barea is the first Maverick to win they award.
“J.J. Barea’s impassioned and tireless efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico are inspiring and should spur us all to contribute in our own communities,” PBWA President Josh Robbins said in a press release. “PBWA members salute J.J., his fellow finalists and fellow nominees for their outstanding and heartfelt work.”
Days after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean island that Barea calls home, he set in motion several initiatives to help aid the residents of Puerto Rico in their recovery efforts. Barea personally raised nearly $500,000 in aid and set up a financial support fund on YouCaring.com, which has generated almost $270,000. He also coordinated five trips to the island to deliver 100,000 pounds of supplies such as generators, food, water, clothing, and medical supplies using the Mavs’ team plane thanks to the generosity of owner Mark Cuban.
Further, the Mavericks donated 100 percent of all single-game ticket sales from their October 25 game against the Memphis Grizzlies to recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, raising an additional $114,000. Barea also partnered with bike-share company ofo to donate 600 bikes to aid in facilitating transportation.
Ranking as one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record, Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 as a Category 4 storm. In its wake, the United States government estimated that only 64 people died as the result of Maria. Those estimates were horribly inaccurate. Recent death totals are disputed but remain significantly higher than the original estimate. Today, there are also still thousands without electricity in the U.S. territory. Damage costs on the still ravaged island are upwards of $91.61 billion as recovery efforts conitnue.
Other finalists for the award were Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, Houston Rockets guard James Harden and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade. The winner is determined by a vote from more than 200 members of the PBWA. They chose wisely.