It has been a less than cheerful week in Mavs Land. In the last seven days the team has lost two straight games, seen its 2018 first round draft pick seem on the verge on demanding a trade and lost a fan and team favorite player to a catastrophic injury. J.J. Barea’s ruptured Achilles injury last Friday night during the Mavs win in Minnesota was a heartbreaker to his teammates, coaches and fans all around the world.
It’s clear from the way his teammates ran down the floor to try to help him up and then DeAndre Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki leaving the bench to crouch down and give him support that Barea is one of, if not the most, well-liked players on the team. This respect echoes around the league as Warriors coach Steve Kerr was sure to send his sympathies to Barea when Golden State was in town last Sunday. Teammate Luka Doncic continued their pregame intro tradition of high-fiving in the air and it certainly stole the hearts of all Mavs fans on Twitter earlier this week.
Anoche @luka7doncic en la presentación de los #Mavs en su cancha, hizo un high five 🖐🏻 solo en el lugar donde @jjbareapr se paraba a chocarle la mano a sus compañeros de equipo, en apoyo al jugador por su salida tan abrupta de la temporada. Pronta recuperación #JJBarea. 🇵🇷 pic.twitter.com/atcXhVDEbv
— On Time Deportes (@OnTimeDeportes) January 14, 2019
Barea had surgery on Monday and everything went according to plan. Barea was not in attendance at Wednesday’s home loss to the San Antonio Spurs but he did stop by Mavericks practice on Friday and spoke to the media. The 34 year-old was of course forced to get around using a pair of crutches and slowly made his way across practice facility floor to meet with reporters. Dressed with a hat and a smile, Barea seemed happy to be crutching around somewhere besides his own home.
— Dorothy J. Gentry (@DorothyJGentry) January 18, 2019
With an injury as serious as an Achilles rupture, the first thing people want to know about is a possible recovery timetable. J.J. Barea tried to sound optimistic when discussing the topic.
“It’s going to be around six to ten months, but it depends. Everything looked great. I feel better than I thought I would,” he said with a smile. “It’s going to be a new thing for me: trying to get ready and back to work.”
At a time when everyone in the NBA world has their eyes set on Warriors star big man DeMarcus Cousins making his return from the Achilles injury he suffered roughly one year ago, Barea is fortunate enough to have a teammate in Wesley Matthews who battled hard and made his way back from the same ailment in a considerately shorter time than most after he suffered the injury in a game against the Mavs back in March 2015. Barea has been sure to take advantage of having a resource like Matthews at a time like this.
“He was great,” Barea said when asked about their conversations. “I’m going to keep talking to him and keep asking the same questions when I start working. He said, “You’re going to be back 100% and you have to be patient. Every day you’re going to get better.””
It has been an emotionally up and down week for Barea, for sure. He knows it’s not necessarily going to get any easier.
“It’s still rough,” Barea said of his feelings each morning when he wakes up and remembers what happened. “Every morning when I wake up it’s going to be rough. I’m born to do this. I love waking up every day and coming into work. Playing for this team is what I love to do; but things happen for a reason and I’m going to stay positive.”
As mentioned before, J.J. is unquestionably a favorite of almost all teammates, coaches and fans. His recovery from this injury won’t always be easy, but he knows he’s fortunate enough to have some major help whenever he’s feeling down.
“I have a great family and support team: my teammates, the trainers, the coaches, Mark (Cuban), Donnie (Nelson), all my friends and fans in Puerto Rico have been awesome. I’m going to enjoy this comeback and see where it takes me.”
Hopefully his comeback takes him back to Dallas next season whenever he is ready to return. Barea is in the final year of a four-year contract, but one would have to think he has the option to be a Maverick for as long as he’d like. Dallas let him get away once back in the winter of 2011, but they’re not going to do it again.