Teófilo "Teó" Cruz Downs (January 8, 1942 – August 30, 2005) was a Puerto Rican professional basketball player. After playing college basketball, Cruz played in Puerto Rico's top level league, the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) with Cangrejeros de Santurce, Indios de Canóvanas, Mets de Guaynabo, Cardenales de Río Piedras, and Taínos de Mayagüez. Cruz also played in Spain with Picadero Damm, and in Belgium with Racing Club Mechelen.
|Born||January 8, 1942|
Santurce, Puerto Rico
|Died||August 30, 2005 (aged 63)|
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|College||New York University |
|NBA draft||1965 / Round: 6 / Pick: 55th overall|
|Selected by the Los Angeles Lakers|
|1957–1964||Cangrejeros de Santurce|
|1966–1969||Cangrejeros de Santurce|
|1969–1970||Racing Club Mechelen|
|1970–1976||Cangrejeros de Santurce|
|1977–1978||Indios de Canóvanas|
|1979||Mets de Guaynabo|
|1980||Cardenales de Río Piedras|
|1981–1982||Taínos de Mayagüez|
|Career highlights and awards|
|FIBA Hall of Fame as player|
Cruz was also a member of the senior Puerto Rican national basketball team, and he represented Puerto Rico in five Summer Olympic Games, from 1960 to 1976, making him the first athlete to do so. On March 1, 2007, he was inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame.
Cruz played college basketball in the United States. He was originally a member of New York University's NYU Violets (1961–1962), but he transferred to Seattle University, where he was a member of the Seattle Redhawks (1962–1965). After his college career, he was selected with the 55th overall pick of the 1965 NBA Draft, by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cruz played for 25 seasons in the Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) of Puerto Rico. He was the league's Most Valuable Player 4 times. He was also selected the league's Defensive Player of the Year a record five times. He played with the Santurce Crabbers, Indios de Canóvanas, Mets de Guaynabo, Cardenales de Río Piedras, and Taínos de Mayagüez.
He also led the league in points per game twice, and was the first player ever to reach 9,000 total points scored in the BSN. In total, he scored 9,535 points, for an average of 16.3 points per game. He also grabbed 4,672 total rebounds, for an average of 8.0 rebounds per game. He also had 605 assists, during his twenty-five-year career.
National team careerEdit
Cruz was the starting center of the senior Puerto Rican national basketball team, at the times when Puerto Rico and Brazil were the two dominant teams in the FIBA Americas region, excluding the United States. Cruz was the first basketball player to compete at five different Summer Olympics. That feat was matched twenty years later by Brazilian player Oscar Schmidt, at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and later by American player Teresa Edwards and Australian player Andrew Gaze, at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and by Spanish player Juan Carlos Navarro, at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Awards and accomplishmentsEdit
- 2× Puerto Rican BSN League scoring champion: (1960, 1962)
- 2× Puerto Rican BSN League champion: (1962, 1968)
- 4× Puerto Rican BSN League MVP: (1962, 1967, 1970, 1971)
- 6× Puerto Rican BSN League Defensive Player of the Year: (1964, 1966, 1969–1972)
- Cruz played at 5 Summer Olympic Games. He played at the Rome 1960 Olympics, at the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, at the Mexico 1968 Olympics, at Munich 1972 Olympics, and at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
- Cruz was named one FIBA's 50 Greatest Players in 1991.
- His number 13 jersey was retired by Cangrejeros de Santurce.
- Olympic Order
- On March 1, 2007, Cruz was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. Along with Bill Russell and Nikos Galis, he was one of the first three male American players to be inducted into the international Hall of Fame, as he was a part of the first induction class in history.
Cruz died on August 30, 2005, of a brain hemorrhage. After his death, on August 31, 2005, the sports complex in San Juan was named after him, in his honor. Also, before a game between the Puerto Rican and Venezuelan national teams, a moment of silence was held in his memory.