By Roscoe Whalan
He’s the guy everyone loves to hate.
Kevin Love can’t stand him, the 2011 Miami Heat shudder at the thought of him and now you can add the Washington Wizards to that list.
In fact, maybe only the Dallas Mavericks like JJ Barea and after yesterday’s performance you can understand why.
With just three minutes to go and the game on the line he dropped seven straight points in a little over a minute – twice regaining the lead for Dallas.
Then, he hassled Bradley Beal into an offensive foul and came back down the other end and drained a 3-pointer for good measure.
Say what you want about him, and Wizards fans are saying plenty, the pint-sized Puerto Rican can play.
Yes, he dribbles the ball way too much and sometimes you think he’s trying to break a hole in the court but he’s a fighter.
On a night when their German Giant struggled the Mavericks could count on Barea to carry them down the stretch.
Sure, it helps when you’ve got guys with go-go gadget arms like Brandan Wright to throw alley-oops to but Barea’s a baller.
So, every time a guy like JJ dials it up like he did last night, it makes me, and 6-footers around the world think, we can do it too.
Without further adieu, here are six other inspirations under six-feet:
Nate Robinson 5’9
Whether it’s blocking Yao Ming or being the only ever 3-time dunk contest champion (even if it took 14 attempts the first time), Nate Robinson is a beast. He’s slowly stripped the sideshow image of ‘just a dunker’ to become a punch scorer off the bench but what I love most about him has got to be that Nate Flex.
Isaiah Thomas 5’9
There must be something in the water in the state of Washington because not only did they produce Nate Robinson but Isaiah Thomas too. The sub-six-footer is always an underdog but Thomas was also the 60th pick in the 2011 draft. Who cares if it’s preseason, if you’re hitting shots to force OT and staring down Floyd Mayweather in the process, you are a champion of the small guys.
Earl Boykins 5’5
Ten teams got the privilege of having this 5’5 dynamo on their team. He found a home in Denver, and then played substantial minutes in the backcourt with Allen Iverson in what possibly was the shortest backcourt in the history of the NBA ever. Despite his speed rating of 99 making him nearly unstoppable on 2k, there’s no other man who could pull off a dunny roll like this:
Yuta Tabuse 5’9
The NBA career was short, much like him but Yuta Tabuse made history as the first Japanese player in the NBA. In the end, he played just four games for the Phoenix Suns back in 2004-05 but if you’re the Michael Jordan of Japan you’re on my list.
Muggsy Bogues 5’3
Vertically challenged but remembered as a great competitor, at just 5’3 Muggsy Bogues is still the shortest guy to ever play in the NBA. And what better way to emphasise his short stature than to team him up with the tallest guy in the league, Manute Bol?
Spud Webb 5’7
Seriously, could this guy have had a better name? It literally means potato. Before there were other guys his size to dunk over Spud Webb made a stand for small guys everywhere winning the 1986 dunk contest and beating out teammate Dominique Wilkins in the process. For that, Spud, short guys around the world will always salute you.
Roscoe Whalan is a #BTHype US Correspondent & will be covering games across the East Coast, based in Washington for believethehypeNBA.com this season. Follow him on Twitter: @RoscoeWhalan7