The NBA has been filled with unexpected beefs this season. From LeBron James vs. Enes Kanter to DeMarcus Cousins vs. Kevin Durant to Trevor Ariza vs. Austin Rivers, a whole bunch of players have gone at it—and the season is still barely half over. But John Wall vs. J.J. Barea? Yeah, we definitely can’t say we saw that one coming.
The Wizards and Mavericks squared off in Dallas Monday night in what seemed like it would be a pretty forgettable matchup. Washington is going to be the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff race this season, and Dallas is in the middle of another rebuilding year. So, most people didn’t have Monday night’s matchup circled on their calendars.
But Wall and Barea provided some fireworks toward the end of the contest. With the Mavericks leading by more than 20 and about 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Wall attempted to block Barea’s shot after Barea was whistled for an offensive foul against Kelly Oubre Jr. Barea took exception to the block, which came well after the whistle and resulted in Wall hitting him on the arm, and started talking trash to Wall. That led to Barea getting hit with a technical foul.
It also led to shots fired by both players after the game. Wall went first and attempted to downplay what Barea did by referring to the 6-foot guard as a "midget."
"Just a little midget trying to get mad," Wall said. "I paid him no mind."
Barea then caught wind of what Wall said about him and responded accordingly. He called Wall’s comment "funny" before saying that, although he’s been in the NBA for more than a decade now, Wall is the first opposing player he's ever hated.
"Now I have somebody in the NBA that I don’t like," Barea said. "That’s my first. I don’t like him at all."
Barea also twisted the knife by saying he doesn’t think he’s alone in disliking Wall. He suggested some of Wall’s own teammates dislike him, too.
"I don’t think his teammates like him, either," Barea said. "So it’s nothing new for him."
Wall has struggled to establish strong relationships with some of his teammates in the past. In fact, the Washington Post literally just published a report about how a recent Wizards team meeting didn’t go well.
Barea went on to explain exactly what led to him barking at Wall on the court. While he was the one who got hit with a technical, he claimed Wall started the confrontation with him by hitting him on the arm while going for a block and then refusing to apologize.
"I turn around and we’re looking at each other," Barea said. "I think he’s going to say—what I would do?—'My bad' or something. But he didn’t say that. He was like—I’m not going to say the bad word—'What are you gonna do?' I was like, 'What?' So you know, I had to say some stuff back, and he never changed his mind. He’s trying to be a tough guy when he’s not."
For what it’s worth, Barea and the Mavericks got the last laugh during the game. Dallas won 98-75. But Wall and Barea’s feud was all anyone wanted to talk about when it was over. Who could have seen that coming?