With the NBA season suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus, players like Mavericks’ veteran guard J.J. Barea have a lot of free time on their hands.
While continuing to try and stay in shape, Barea has spent the extra time with his family, and he’s also gotten in some extra TV time. He acknowledged that he even watched the entire seven-part series of the hot-button Netflix documentary that’s sweeping the nation – Tiger King.
Barea sat down with Mavs.com and here’s what he had to say:
Mavs.com: What have you been doing to keep yourself busy since the season was suspended on March 11?
Barea: I’m a positive guy, so I’ve always got to look at the good times. I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with the family and spend a lot of time with my kids. When the weather is good, I’ll have a good day. We’ll go bike riding or we’ll go outside and play outside a lot, and then just hang out in the house. I’m doing workouts at home. The trainers send me some good workouts every week. We’ve got a little gym upstairs that we kind of moved some stuff out of the way and we tried to build a gym area so we could do some exercises – me and my wife – and that’s it.
Mavs.com: How difficult is it not being able to go to the Mavericks’ practice facilities and work out with your teammates?
Barea: It’s hard, and it’s totally different. You get used to something, and I’ve been doing it for so long and I’m so used to just waking up and grabbing a coffee and driving to the gym. It’s like automatic, and now it’s gone. So now you’ve got to find different stuff to do. I’ve kind of got a little routine that I’m doing with the kids, with TV and with working out. I like to stay in a little routine and go from there.
Mavs.com: What’s been a typical day for you these last three weeks.?
Barea: I wake up in the morning, I’ve got an eight-month old boy, so I’ll hang out with him a couple of hours. Then I get some good breakfast, then I do a good workout around 11 or 12 with my wife. And then in the afternoon I play with my 4-year old, Paulina, doing something for her. Sometimes we go bike riding, sometimes we get in the pool, sometimes we play basketball. And then at night we’ll put the kids to sleep and then find something to watch on TV.
Mavs.com: No one knows when the NBA will start playing games again. But whenever you do start up again, how long do you think it’ll take for players to get back in basketball shape before they can realistically get back on the court and play a game?
Barea: I think it’ll take a minimum of seven days. If you’re an NBA player and if you stay busy and stay healthy during this time at home, you could be able to bounce back in seven days to two weeks and you should be ready to go.
Mavs.com: During this time off, have you carved out some time to watch the popular TV documentary, Tiger King, on Netflix? It’s sweeping the country.
Barea: I’ve watched Tiger King. Right now I’m watching Money Heist. It’s a TV show (on Netflix) from Spain where they steal a bank. I’ve watched All American. It’s pretty good. I watch a lot of stuff. The other day they had on the 2011 (NBA) playoffs — the Mavericks against Miami in the Finals – so I watched that. That was the first time I really sat down since we won the championship and I really watched every minute of every game.
Mavs.com: What was your impression of Tiger King?
Barea: Man, I was impressed with how many tigers and how many cats are in the United States. I didn’t know it was that much. And just the craziness of people and tigers and cats in the United States. It was wild!
Mavs.com: Have you been going grocery shopping and stocking up on groceries and practicing social distancing?
Barea: Me and my wife take turns going to the grocery stores. I think in this town everybody’s relaxed and everybody’s looking to do a good job.
Mavs.com: What went through your mind when you got the news in the middle of the Mar. 11 game against Denver that this season was going to be suspended until further notice?
Barea: It was a shock. I remember I was on the bench in the third quarter, and the news came and (Mavs owner) Mark Cuban told me and everybody was talking about it on the bench. I was like, this is the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had in a basketball game in the NBA. And then I still had to play the fourth quarter. So, I was kind of like, ‘You know what? Let me just enjoy this fourth quarter and try to win it.’ And it was good that we won. We played really well that night, but it was definitely weird. This was completely new, completely out of the ordinary. So, we just got to hang in there and stay with it and hopefully we’ll get over it.
Mavs.com: You went through the NBA lockout after the Mavs won the 2011 championship. How much different is this period of time compared to that period of time?
Barea: It’s different, because this one was in the middle of the season. During the lockout we did what we wanted. Here, you can’t do anything. You’re just hanging. You’re just waiting and waiting it out and trying to stay safe, so it’s totally different. During the lockout I was a free agent, so for me it was like: ‘Man, when am I going to sign?’ I was worried about that the whole lockout. It’s a different feeling now.
Mavs.com: Do you believe it’ll get to the point where the NBA will be able to finish this season and eventually crown a champion?
Barea: I still think they’re trying to find a way how we can finish it. But I think it’s 50-50 now. It could go either way now.
Mavs.com: One of the options being talked about is putting all the teams in one city and finishing out the regular season and the playoffs in that city with no fans in the stands. That city is Las Vegas. What do you think of that idea?
Barea: I heard that. I think it’s a great option. I think any way you can find a way to finish this and to have the games on TV, I think it’ll be great for the players and for the fans. For people in their houses to be able to watch NBA playoff games, that’ll be amazing. I know it’ll be hard to do, but if we’re able to do it that’ll be great.
Mavs.com: As far as the Mavs go, how do you like the way Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were clicking together on the court this season?
Barea: I think it was great. It wasn’t good early, and then it kept getting better every day. When Luka got hurt, K.P. played better. And then the last month that’s when you started watching both of them playing good together. And really, as a team, I still think we’ve got a lot of room to get better, so that’s what I was liking. We went from playing OK to playing better to really playing good. And if you have Luka and K.P. playing good together, that’s going to be great.
Mavs.com: This would have been the Mavs’ first year in the playoffs since 2016. You got to feel bad for the fans and for yourself and your teammates if this playoff experience may not happen this season.
Barea: I’ll definitely miss it. I wanted these young players and this young team that we’ve got to go through the playoffs. Also, I was hyped and I was positive with the team we have. I wanted to play against anybody in the playoffs and see what we could do with the talent we have. Hopefully it happens, but it would have been a lot of fun. I know the fans in Dallas can’t wait for that to happen, so we’ll see.
Mavs.com: What’s been the most difficult part about going through this coronavirus pandemic, particularly not knowing when or if you’re going to be able to finish this season that saw the Mavs holding a 40-27 record with 15 games remaining?
Barea: It’s hard, man, especially when you know that you were going to the playoffs for the first time in a while, and you know we have a good team. So that makes it hard. But now this is a new thing that happened and you’ve just got to adapt and you’ve got to stay positive and enjoy your time with the family and with the kids.
Mavs.com: Is it even stranger right now that in addition to the NBA there are no live sports on television? There was no March Madness, and the NCAA championship game was supposed to have been this past Monday night.
Barea: There’s nothing on TV, so that makes it super weird. You always have at least something to watch or at least something to look forward to watch at night. It’s definitely a difference, and you can feel it outside and you can feel it everywhere. It’s a different feeling all over the world.
Mavs.com: I understand you’ve been brushing up on your golf game these last few weeks. How is that going?
Barea: I’ve been able to go to the golf course and walk and hit some balls and carry my bag. It’s a good workout and a good way to stay safe and do something outside. You can play (golf), but you can’t get on carts and you can’t be close to people.
Mavs.com: Has your golf game improved?
Barea: It’s alright. I don’t play that much. It’s improved. I’ve got a good net in the backyard that I work on my swing, so it’s definitely better than a couple of years ago. But I’ve still got room to improve.
Mavs.com: As far as basketball goes, what about NBA 2K. A lot of NBA players are involved with that. Are you playing it?
Barea: No, I’m not playing any video games. A couple of years ago I kind of stopped playing video games.
Mavs.com: Do you ever look back and think about what would you have done had you not been an NBA player?
Barea: I got lucky enough to make it to the NBA. I knew I wanted to do something with sports. Since I was a kid I was really good at every sport that I played. I was probably going to end up being some type of coach or a professor in sports or something like that. Thank God I never got the chance to do something else.
Mavs.com: Is a career in coaching something you may pursue once your playing days are over?
Barea: Yeah, definitely. I think I can be really good help. I could coach. I’m learning a lot and I’ve been around some good coaches. I’ve got a great relationship with (Mavs) coach (Rick) Carlisle, and he’s one of the best. So yeah, I definitely would like to stay around, especially here in Dallas, and go all the way up to being a head coach some day.
Mavs.com: You’ll turn 36 years old on June 26. How many more years do you want to play before you retire?
Barea: I think after this one, maybe two more. I think I can do two more and I can keep helping the team out, and then we’ll see what happens after that.
Mavs.com: What do you say to the legion of Mavs’ fans out there who were all fired up to see this year’s team participate in the playoffs?
Barea: I would tell them if they thought this year was a good team, next year is going to be even better. Next year we’re going to play even better, the guys are going to be better, and there’s going to be even a better season next year. So just stay with it, stay with us, and just stay positive.