DALLAS – J. J. Barea will be front and center stage when the Dallas Mavericks’ guard is one of 10 nominees vying to win the coveted NBA Cares Community Assist Award at the NBA Awards Show in Santa Monica, Calif.
The awards show will be televised tonight at 8 CT on TNT.
The big question is, will Barea be able to do it again?
Earlier this month Barea beat out a worthy class of candidates to capture the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award handed out by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The award is presented to the player, coach or athletic trainer who demonstrates outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Barea won the award primarily because he quickly jumped into action when Puerto Rico — his home – was devastated last year by Hurricane Maria. Working with partners in North Texas and using an airplane on multiple occasions that’s owned by Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Barea provided more than 100,000 pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico, including 10,000 pounds of food, 14,000 pounds of water, 32 generators, and 3,000 pounds of diapers, clothes, medical supplies, toiletries and cleaning supplies in just his first trip to the island.
Mavs scout Eduardo Najera is rooting for Barea to win the award tonight.
“If you go back and see what he did for the island, for Puerto Rico, he was incredible,” Najera said. “When the people needed it the most he gave so much of his own money, so much of his own time.
“It just shows the type of character that he is.”
Barea launched a fundraiser on YouCaring.com – it generated over $ 250,000 — for families that were impacted by Hurricane Maria. He also personally raised almost $ 500,000, and worked with the Mavs on a single-game ticket sales event which generated $ 100,000 from the team’s Oct. 25 game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
In addition, the J. J. Barea Foundation offers economic assistance to non-profit entities in Puerto Rico.
Najera recalls when Barea was so adamant about helping the island he grew up on and praised him for his humanitarianism.
“I was going through my own stuff, because Mexico went through it,” said Najera, who is from Mexico. “It was kind of the same time – the hurricane and the earthquake in Mexico — and I was trying to do some of my own stuff in my country.
“But I don’t think I did nearly enough as J.J. did or anybody else has done for his country. I was proud of him. He wears that Puerto Rican flag everywhere he goes. Even when we won the championship (in 2011) he had it. Not only is he proud of that, but he also gives back. He means so much to the community.”
The other nine candidates who are nominated with Barea for tonight’s award include Dwyane Wade (Miami), LeBron James (Cleveland), Kevin Durant (Golden State), DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), CJ McCollum (Portland) Ricky Rubio (Utah), Kemba Walker (Charlotte), Mike Conley (Memphis) and Jabari Parker (Milwaukee).