Jose Ortiz

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José Rafael Ortiz (born October 23 1963) —better known as Piculín or Picu— is a professional basketball player from Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Ortiz has played in the NCAA, NBA, Europe and National Superior Basketball League of Puerto Rico (BSN). He played for the Utah Jazz while in the NBA and the San Germán Athletics, Santurce Crabbers and Arecibo Captains while in the BSN. Ortiz was a member of the Puerto Rican National Team from 1983-2004. Most noteably he was a member of the 2004 Team that defeated the United States.


Ortiz, nicknamed Piculín after one of the characters in The Wizard of Oz , is a native of Cayey who entered Puerto Rico's national basketball tournament with the Atléticos de San Germán in 1981. In 1982, Piculín had reached the mandatory age to join Puerto Rico's national basketball team, and in 1983, he saw his first international competition, at the Pan American Games of Caracas, Venezuela.

Ortiz and his teammates took the Atléticos to many championships, beginning with the 1985 title, won 30 years after the Atléticos's last title.

In 1985, Ortiz travelled to the United States mainland to play collegiate basketball for Oregon State University, where he was instructed by legendary coach Ralph Miller. He stayed at OSU for two years, winning the Pac 10 Player of the Year award in 1987. He was then selected by the Utah Jazz with the #16 pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft. After a year in Spain, Ortiz joined the Jazz for the 1988-89 season, where he stayed that season and for a portion of the 1989-90 season. He then returned to Spain, where he played many years.

In 1991, Ortiz helped the Puerto Rican National basketball team earn a gold medal at the Pan American Games, held in Havana, Cuba.

In 1996, Ortiz was brought to Greece and Aris Thessaloniki, by Aris President Zafiris Samoladas. Along with Charles Shackleford, he formed a powerful frontline for the Greek "emperors" who won the Corac Cup.

In 1997, he was released by the Atléticos and signed with expansion team Cangrejeros de Santurce (Santurce Crabbers), which proceeded to win 4 national championships in a row.

After the 2002 world championships of basketball, held at Indianapolis, Ortiz announced his retirement from the national team, to coincide with national teammate Jerome Mincy's retirement from the team. He would reconsider his decision later and rejoin the national team.

In 2003, Ortiz and the Cangrejeros won their fifth BSN championship in six years.

Ortiz as a sports personality seems affable to his fans and doesn't like to miss an opportunity to sign autographs.

José Ortiz was being seriously considered to carry the Puerto Rican flag at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The honor was later given to his teammate Carlos Arroyo.

See also

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