In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re taking a look back at the four Hispanic players that played for the Dallas Mavericks throughout the team’s history and the mark they left in the league.
The Mavericks’ most legendary Hispanic player was the Panamanian-born Rolando Blackman. When Blackman got drafted into the league he became the first Panamian-born NBA player. He spent 11 seasons with the Mavericks and 13 years in the NBA.
Blackman was drafted ninth overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1981 NBA Draft. In his 11 seasons with the team the shooting guard averaged 19.2 points per game (PPG), 3.6 rebounds per game (RPG), 3.2 assists per game (RPG), and 0.8 steals per game (SPG). He became a four-time All-Star while on the Mavs, that would be all of his All-Star appearances.
The Mavericks made the playoffs six times while Blackman was on the team. They made it as far as the Western Conference Finals in the 1988 NBA playoffs. Blackman’s playoff numbers with Dallas were just as impressive as his regular season numbers, he put up 21.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 4.1 APG, and 0.8 SPG in the playoffs.
He finished his NBA career having scored 16,643 points with the Mavericks and was the franchise record holder in points for 16 years before Dirk Nowitzki broke it, he’s still second all-time in franchise points. Blackman also finished his NBA career as the all-time scoring leader among Hispanic players, scoring 17,623 points throughout his career, a record he held for 21 years before Pau Gasol passed him. Blackman became the second Mavericks player to have his jersey retired by the team. On March 11, 2000, his No. 22 jersey was raised into the rafters of Reunion Arena.
Eduardo Nájera made history when he became the first Mexican-born player to be drafted into the NBA and the second overall to make it into the league. Nájera spent four and a half seasons on the Mavs and 12 years in the NBA.
Nájera was drafted 38th overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2000 NBA Draft. On draft night he was traded to Dallas where he spent four seasons with the team and returned years later via trade for half a season. Najera averaged 4.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.6 APG, and 0.7 SPG as part of the Mavericks.
In all five seasons in which Nájera was part of the team, they made the playoffs. The furthest the Mavs made the playoffs with Nájera on the team was in 2003, when they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before getting eliminated. In the playoffs, he put up 4.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.5 SPG.
He went from being a rookie learning his place in the league during his first stint with the Mavs, to an experienced veteran who helped younger guys reach their full potential in his second go around with the team. He became an inspiration to many as his hard work paid off as he became the first drafted Mexican-born NBA player.
Jose Juan Barea Mora, better known as J.J. Barea, was the Puerto Rican-born Mavericks star of the 2000s and 2010s. He spent 11 out of his 14 years in the league part of the Mavs organization.
Barea went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft. He joined the Golden State Warriors in summer league, he then joined the Mavericks in summer league before signing a multi-year deal with the team. In his time as a Maverick, he averaged 8.6 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.8 APG, and 0.4 SPG.
The Mavs made the playoffs in 8 of the years in which Barea was part of the team. He was part of the 2011 Mavericks championship team. In the playoffs, Barea averaged 7.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.6 RPG, and 0.3 SPG.
Barea became a role model to many Hispanics, he was the epitome of heart over height, he didn’t let his height be a deficit to him, instead, he used it to his advantage. He became a floor general for the Mavericks and a veteran that would give advice and assist the younger players. He showed everyone that it doesn’t matter how tall you are or where you’re from, if you work hard you can achieve your dreams. Barea is one player that many Hispanics and Mavs fans will remember for life.
The Spaniard-born Jose Calderón spent one season on the Mavericks, the 2013-14 season. He spent 14 seasons in the league, making a pit stop with the Mavericks.
During the 2005 offseason, Calderón was persuaded by the Toronto Raptors general manager, Rob Babcock, to join the team. He spent several years in Toronto, before being traded to the Detroit Pistons, and finally signing with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2013 offseason. In his one season with the Mavs, he averaged 11.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4.7 APG, and 0.9 SPG while starting all 81 games played.
Dallas made the playoffs that year but lost in seven games to their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs. Calderón got the starting point guard position in all seven games and put up 10.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, and 4.4 APG.
Calderón made history while playing for Toronto, he set the record for the highest free-throw percentage in a season, 98.1%. He made his mark in NBA history and proved to many that Hispanic players and international players, in general, could make a name for themselves in the NBA.