Juan Ramón Rivas Contreras (born March 16, 1966) is a Puerto Rican professional Basketball player. Rivas was the second player from Puerto Rico to play in the NBA, and half of the first duo of Puerto Ricans to be active in the NBA simultaneously. Rivas has played in the NBA, NCAA, and the National Superior Basketball League of Puerto Rico (BSN) with the Carolina Giants.
Rivas has also played internationally in Spain, Greece, and Italy. Rivas was a member of the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team for several years. He represented Puerto Rico in the 1986 FIBA World Championship in Malaga, Spain; 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea; 1990 FIBA World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina; 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain; and the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, United States.
As a youngster, played at The San Juan Y.M.C.A for Millin Romero. He progressed through Carolina's minor basketball tournaments, becoming one of the best centers in Puerto Rico while he played for Levittown's Pedro Albizu Campos High School's team. Flor Melendez took note of his progress and signed him to play for the Carolina Giants of the BSN. That year he was selected BSN Rookie of the Year.
The changes on the Giants were evident when Rivas joined the team: From being one of the worst teams in the league during the 1983 tournament they got better every year and in 1986 In 1987, the team almost reached the BSN playoffs, and, in 1988, the team finally reached the BSN playoffs for the first time having the best record in the regular season.
Rivas attended Temple from 1984 to 1988 going in four occasions to the NCAA post season tournament, was coach by hall of famer coach John Chaney. Temple was ranked 1st in the Nation his senior year with a record of 34 win and 2 losses. Playing with the Giants helped him gain experience and improve his game in the NCAA. He became well known in the United States as a center who could score points and rebounds in double figures, and was a respected player among his peers and critics.
Signed by the NBAEdit
Thanks to his notable NCAA career, the Boston Celtics announced that they would sign Rivas for a full season towards the end of the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. Having coincided with Jose Ortiz's signing by the Utah Jazz two weeks prior, Rivas' signing by the Celtics was a cause of great celebration for Puerto Ricans, many of whom felt their efforts in basketball were finally being recognized by the NBA.
Rivas was the second Puerto Rican to play in the NBA due to time zoning the game started three hour before Ortiz game, and the first Puerto Rican developed in the island by playing on the minors leagues. Ortiz was the second Puerto Rican developed at the island. Alfred Lee (basketball) was born in the island but grew up in the United States. Ortiz was the first born and raised Puerto Rican to ever play in the NBA.
Soon after the league started a local news Television network (channel 24), sent a crew to Salt Lake City and to Boston to film a documentary about Ortiz and Rivas in the NBA.
With the Celtics, Rivas had the opportunity to share playing time alongside Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, Robert Parish, Reggie Lewis and Brian Shaw among others. The Celtics reached the playoffs by beating the Washington Bullets by two games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA east that year, but were swept in three games by the eventual champion Detroit Pistons in the playoffs' first round.
Because of his height, Rivas had to change playing positions when he arrived to the Celtics, going from playing center in Puerto Rico, to forward in Boston.
After that season with the Celtics, came back to Puerto Rico and received his first MVP honor playing for the Carolina Giants. That summer was signed by a Basketball Club in Spain call Tau Vitoria which became his home for the next 7 years.
Rivas represented Puerto Rico as a member of the Puerto Rican National Basketball Team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, and in the 1992 Olympics, held at Barcelona, Spain and the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta. He also won the Gold medal at the Havana Cuba at the 1991 Pan American Games, participated in two FIBA World Championship, first in Málaga, Spain 1986, and 1990 Buenos Aires Argentina Coming in fourth place after losing to the U.S in overtime. In 1995 won the gold medal at the preolimpics in Neuquen Argentina.
Rivas played For TAU Vitoria in the ACB (Spanish league), From 1989 until 1995 winning the Kings Cup the season 1994-1995,went to the final European cup three consecutive years and finally in 1995-1996 won the European cup against Peja Stojakovic team PAOK Salonika becoming the M.V.P of the final with 32 points and 15 rebounds, 1996-1997 won the Spanish league with the Barcelona Futbol Club and also came in second place in the Final Four European league losing to the team Olimpiakos from Greece. The following year went to athens to play for AEK Athens BC one of the biggest club in Greece. The year 98 went back to Spain for his final year with the club Caceres. Year 1999 played in Italy for the club Fabriano being his last year playing in Europe.
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