I’ve been following the NBA Finals closely and cheering for the Dallas Mavericks, even though most basketball experts predict the Miami Heat will win the championship. I’m rooting for the Mavericks mainly because of José Juan Barea.
JJ Barea is the seventh Puerto Rican-born player to be in the NBA and the third ever to play in the NBA Finals. As a proud Puerto Rican, I’m just in awe to see a Boricua in the NBA Finals. Barea was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, my mother’s hometown.
I’m relatively a new professional basketball fan, so I missed supporting Carlos Arroyo in the 2005 NBA Finals when he played for the runner-up Detroit Pistons (the San Antonio Spurs won that year.) Arroyo, who was born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, and now plays for the Boston Celtics, was a member of the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team that defeated the United States at the 2004 Olympic Basketball Tournament.
The first Puerto Rican-born NBA player and the first to win a championship ring is Butch Lee, who was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico and was drafted by the NBA in 1978. He played for the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the 1980 championship winning L.A. Lakers.
The other four Puerto Rican-born NBA players include: Ramon Rivas, the second Puerto Rican-born NBA player; José Ortiz, also a member of the 2004 Olympic Puerto Rican Basketball Team; Peter Ramos, also on the 2004 Puerto Rican Basketball Team; and Guillermo Diaz, the fifth Puerto Rican-born player drafted by the NBA.
As we all know, you don’t have to be born in Puerto Rico to be Puerto Rican, so I have to give a shout out to New York Knick Carmelo Anthony, whose father is Puerto Rican. Go Melo! If I’m missing any other Puerto Rican NBA player, please comment below.
Last night the Mavericks tied the NBA Finals against the Heat forcing Game 6 in Miami this Sunday, which just happens to be the day of the National Puerto Rican Parade. I can’t wait to see Barea representing all Boricuas on Sunday!
Go JJ! Represent! Wepa!
(Please see the comments section for players I missed.)