José Ortiz

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José Rafael Ortiz (born October 23, 1963), better known as Piculín or Picu, is a retired Puerto Rican professional basketball player. He has played in the NCAA, NBA, various European teams and the National Superior Basketball League of Puerto Rico. 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 notably he was a member of the 2004 Puerto Rican National Basketball Team that defeated the United States. Ortiz was a member of 4 Olympic teams 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2004.

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Biography

Ortiz, nicknamed Piculín after one of the characters in The Wizard of Oz and The Concorde, is a native of Cayey who entered Puerto Rico's national basketball tournament with the Atléticos de San Germán in 1981. In 1982, Ortiz reached the minimum 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 traveled to the United States to play collegiate basketball for Oregon State University, where he was instructed by legendary coach Ralph Miller and was a teammate of future NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton during the latter's freshman year. He stayed at OSU for two years, winning the Pac 10 Player of the Year award in 1987, defeating (among others) Reggie Miller of UCLA. He earned NCAA All-American honors in the 1986–1987 NCAA season. He was then selected by the Utah Jazz with the #15 pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft. Ortiz was the flag-bearer for Puerto Rico at 1987 Pan American Games, where they won the bronze medal.[1]

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.

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