More than 1,000 folks showed up for a two-hour long parade in San Juan, Puerto Rico, today in honor of Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Barea.
The parade was given for Barea – a native of Puerto Rico – to show appreciation for him helping the Mavs win the NBA title on June 12.
Ryan Blake, the co-director of NBA Scouting, is not surprised Barea has reached such a stature in his life to where parades are being thrown in his honor. Blake remembers when Barea was coming out of Northeastern University and how he tore up the NBA pre-draft camp in Portsmouth, Va.
“I love little Barea,’’ Blake said. “When he came in we brought him to Portsmouth and he broke the record for assists.
“We wanted to bring him to Chicago (for another pre-draft camp). We were in a meeting in Chicago and no one else wanted to bring him in, and we said this guy deserved to be there.’’
Barea never made it to the Chicago pre-draft camp. He also wasn’t chosen in the 2006 NBA Draft.
The Mavs, however, noticed Barea in the Las Vegas Summer League and signed him to a free agent contract.
“What I love about Barea is I saw him go against a 7-footer and getting in his face,’’ Blake said. “He’s a guy that has a chip on his shoulders and has that competitiveness and that will.
“You just pull for those guys. You love that and you want that type of person on your team.’’
Barea, who made $1.815 million this past season, becomes a free agent on July 1 and said he would love to remain with the Mavs if a fair deal can be worked out. That would be fine with Blake, who knew five years ago that Barea had a world of potential and could one day play a meaningful role on a championship team.
“It’s going to be an interesting summer,’’ Blake said. “Like I said, (Barea’s) legacy in there, too, in Dallas.’’
In addition to today’s parade, another one is planned for Barea on Thursday in his hometown of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter