Every time the Mavericks come to town, J.J. Barea gets to relive it.

A stunned Miami Heat crowd. LeBron James walking off the floor, bitter disappointment in his eyes. Dirk Nowitzki doing the same with tears of joy in his.

Then came the championship parade and celebration upon the 2011 champions' return to Dallas, winding through downtown's heat-blanketed streets before culminating inside the American Airlines Center. That summer, Barea signed with Minnesota for four years and $19 million, leaving the metroplex a changed man.

"It's always going to be in my head and on my heart," Barea said of his five years with the Mavericks. "It was great what we had over there, and I've got some good friends, so whenever we play them, it's special. I always want to beat them."

Barea has remained closest with Nowitzki, the 35-year-old face of the Dallas franchise who's still producing at an elite clip in his 16th NBA season. Those two and some members of the Mavericks' training and equipment staffs met for dinner Thursday night ahead of the teams' first 2013-14 clash.

It allowed them to reminisce on Barea's four huge 3-pointers in Dallas' Game 6 clincher at Miami. Or Corey Brewer -- now a Timberwolves starter, then a little-used, late-season addition -- coming off the bench to provide a spark in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Lakers.

Nowitzki earned Finals MVP honors. Three seasons later, he's a little slower and more fragile. "His better years are gone," Barea said.

But he's still got the scoring touch and came into Friday averaging 19.4 points per game.

"He loves to hoop, like we say," said Barea, who predicts his old German friend has at least two Dirk-like years left in him. "Him and Kobe, I think, are the hardest workers in the NBA. So he's going to be around."

Brewer had similar praise for Nowitzki. That same 2011 season, Minnesota traded Brewer to New York -- who subsequently waived him, allowing him to sign with the Mavericks -- then re-signed him as a free agent this offseason. He manned spot duty in six games during the Mavs' playoff run but gleaned lessons on detail from Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler.