DALLAS—Unfortunately, Dallas Mavericks guard J. J. Barea did not win the NBA Cares Community Assist Award. The award, given out tonight in Santa Monica, Calif., at the NBA Awards Show, was captured by Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
However, Barea collected one third-place vote and finished tied with Cleveland’s Rodney Hood for 12th for the Sixth Man Award, which was won by Lou Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers. Also, Mavs point guard Dennis Smith Jr. had one third-place vote and came in fifth in the Rookie of the Year balloting after a season which saw him average 15.2 points and 5.2 assists per game.
Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons captured the Rookie of the Year award with 481 points, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (323 points) was second, Boston’s Jayson Tatum (101 points) third and Kyle Kuzma (three points) of the Los Angeles Lakers came in fourth.
Meanwhile, among the contributions Durant made include a $3 million donation to the University of Texas’ basketball program and the school’s Center for Sports Leadership & Innovation. Durant played the 2006-’07 season at UT before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Barea was a strong candidate to win this award mainly 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 certainly was rooting for Barea to win tonight’s award.
“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.
Besides Barea and Durant, the other eight nominees for the award included LeBron James (Cleveland), Dwyane Wade (Miami), DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans), CJ McCollum (Portland) Ricky Rubio (Utah), Kemba Walker (Charlotte), Mike Conley (Memphis) and Jabari Parker (Milwaukee).