Former Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea announced his retirement last week. Barea, 38, played the majority of his career in Dallas, spending 11 of his 14 seasons with the Mavericks. He spent three seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I’m ready,” Barea said. “Last year was a tough mentality, and I wasn’t ready. This year I am, and I am at peace with retiring.”
The fact that Barea carved out such a long career despite his size is a testament to his hard work and grit. Coming into the league at 5’10” and 180 pounds, no one could have predicted he would play almost 15 years in the NBA. It’s undeniable that he left his mark on the Mavericks franchise in his time here.
Barea ranks fifth all-time in franchise history in games played at 637. He’s eighth all-time in assists with 2,441, and eight all-time in 3-pointers made with 596. In his 11 seasons with the Mavericks, he averaged 8.6 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Barea was a huge part of the Mavericks 2011 title team. In the Finals, with Dallas trailing 2-1 in the series, Rick Carlisle inserted Barea into the starting lineup, and it changed the series. Barea’s quickness on the perimeter added a new dimension to the offense, and the Mavericks went on to win the next three games and capture their first and only championship.
There’ll likely never be a career arc like Barea’s again. He went from a G League oddity (it was even called the Developmental League back then) with the Fort Worth Flyers and became a key player on a championship team. He stuck in the league long enough to rise up the all-time franchise rankings of a fairly successful NBA team. He did all this despite being eight inches shorter than the average NBA player.
Barea spent the beginning of last season as a developmental coach with the Mavericks, but still felt the itch to play. He signed on with Movistar Estudiantes in Spain, and then later with Cangrejeros de Santurce in Puerto Rico for the 2021-22 season.
He’s the last member of the 2011 championship team to officially retire, ending an era. Barea will always be remembered as a champion and fan favorite in Dallas. His attitude and determination fit right in with the tone set by his hall of fame teammate Dirk Nowitzki. Hopefully the Mavericks have a role waiting for him whenever he’s ready.