Q&A: How Mavs' Barea has made his mark

A long career in the NBA is Barea's reward for years of consistency and production. Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks reserve guard J.J. Barea is generously listed at six feet, which is a polite way to say that's a tall tale.

ESPN.com got the lowdown from Barea, who has carved out a successful 10-year NBA career despite being vertically challenged.

How tall are you?

Barea: 5-foot-10 1/2

Why are you listed at six feet tall?

Barea: I've got no idea. It was on my NBA pre-[draft] workouts or something. When I was coming out, they put me at six foot and it stayed. I don't know.

How many guys in the league are shorter than you right now?

Barea: Maybe one. Isaiah [Thomas]. Yeah, he's shorter.

Shane Larkin?

Barea: I think so. I don't really know. Maybe a little bit shorter.

What is the key to lasting a decade in the league as a sub-six-footer?

Barea: You've got to be super, super good at what you do best, and you've got to play your game no matter what situation you're in. I dribble and get to the lane, pick-and-roll, so you've got to do that every time you get on the floor.

How much of it is also a mentality to be able to play against dudes a foot or more taller than you?

Barea: Oh, no question. For me, I've been doing it all my life, so you get used to it at some point, but then you've also got to find a way to get better every year at something. Either reading the game or something. But I'm used to driving against big guys.

Is fearlessness something you learn or do you just have to have it?

Barea: I think you've got to have it. That's something you've got to have. You've got to lose that fear through your life growing up and get used to it.

Not exactly a traditional route to the NBA for you. Grow up in Puerto Rico, spend one year of high school in Miami, go to Northeastern for four years, go undrafted. At what point did you start thinking that you were an NBA player and then in the NBA to stay?

Barea: The first time, it was like junior year or senior year in college when the coach brought me into his office and he was like, 'Hey, if you keep getting better, you're going to have a chance to make it.' Then in the NBA, it was like my third year when I started getting consistent minutes off the bench and started helping the team out. That's when I thought I could be here for a while.

Did you ever think you'd play a critical role in an NBA Finals?

Barea: Nah, never 'til it happened. I just kept trying to get some minutes, trying to get consistent minutes and then it worked out.

What was your reaction when you were told before Game 4 of the 2011 Finals that you were going in the starting lineup?

Barea: It was on the phone with coach [Rick Carlisle]. He called me when I was at the house, and I think my brothers and my parents were there. They were going to go get some food or something. I was like, 'Before you guys leave, I'm going to start tomorrow.' They were like, 'Oh, okay.' They kind of stayed relaxed, like it wasn't nothing, so that made me stay loose. It was another game, so I tried to stay as relaxed as possible.

Not only did you start, but you started at shooting guard at 5-10 1/2.

Barea: That's awesome. Especially with a point guard like J-Kidd, it was awesome.

Who is your favorite sub-six-foot player in NBA history? Is there a guy you patterned your game after?

Barea: I loved [Allen] Iverson. I loved Iverson growing up. I had his jersey in college. And when I faced Iverson, he was short.

OK, because Iverson was listed at six foot.

Barea: Yeah, but he was short. Iverson was six foot maybe when I played against him. I just liked the way he went after it with no fear.