Lesser-knowns nab all-world talent

Zuleyka Rivera is just another reason to watch the NBA?playoffs.

There used to be a time when only the certified stars from the sporting world dated famous actresses and supermodels. If you’re Miss Universe, and Derek Jeter sees you on “Regis” the night after you won the crown, he’ll have his people call your people to set something up. Boom. Done.

Or if you’re the most recognizable athlete on the Miami Heat in the 1990s, and you can run an area like South Beach because you happen to model in the offseason (talking about Rony Seikaly here) and frequent all the right clubs … sure, you can land a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model like Elsa Benitez.

But how in the name of Lyle Lovett did a backup NBA point guard like J.J. Barea of the Dallas Mavericks capture the heart of 2006 Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera?

By text message, of course.

Rivera, who was 18 when she won the crown, was in a relationship when she met Barea in their native Puerto Rico, but just like riding the pine in the NBA, he waited it out. When her relationship ended, he shot her texts and drove the lane from there.

Not a bad job by the undersized assist man who went undrafted out of Northeastern and now plays about 20 minutes a night backing up Jason Kidd.

Barea and Rivera have been dating for more than six months, and with any luck, she’ll be able to pry herself away from her soap opera job in Miami to show up at some Mavs playoff games. The Lone Star State needs a new smoking basketball wife after Eva Longoria dumped Tony Parker.

Northern Exposure

Anyone else feel like baseball’s increasingly becoming a regional sport? Sure, the big-spenders like the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox are known nationally (thanks ESPN), but also-rans like the Toronto Blue Jays, who haven’t made the postseason since John Olerud wore a hard hat at first base, are completely off the radar.

Other than the guy who bopped 54 homers for them last year (Jose Bautista, in case you’d forgotten), can you name five Blue Jays?

Here’s some help: Ricky Romero, who is probably their best pitcher. Why will he be easy to remember? Because Romero is dating the reigning Miss USA, Rima Fakih.

Someone on Twitter had a great line: In Toronto on Opening Day, you had a kid of Mexican descent pitching; his girlfriend, Miss USA, is from Lebanon. Pretty neat. Cooler than that: Romero is making $30 million.

–Jason Raj McIntyre covers athletes off the field and runs the popular blog, TheBigLead.com

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Please send 100-word submissions to letters@metro.us.


Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking


K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.


Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.


Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.


Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.


Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…


Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…


2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…


NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…


Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.


Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.


Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.


Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.


Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.