Mayagüez, PR: It’s not every day that a Puerto Rican kid born in the Bronx from two parents, one born on the island, the other with parents that were born here, a young man who has never visited Puerto Rico and does not speak Spanish winds up playing for the Mayagüez Indios one of the 12 teams that make up the islands BSN professional League. And to top it off he receives an invitation in this his rookie year to play for the Puerto Rico National team.
I had been to several Indios games since that is my neighboring town with a basketball team. We have a house in Cabo Rojo, but our town has no basketball team. So, when I learned that Danielle Jordan Cintrón was from the Boogie Down BX, I had to make the time to visit and interview him before I returned to the Bronx.
When he gave me his full name, I asked about his middle name, “Jordan”. I asked where did that come from? He told me from the Jordan River. I asked how was that? He said it was because the significance of the Jordan river, its spiritual value. The interview continued as follows.
LS: What schools did you attend?
JC: I went to PS 360, MS 244 and then to Dewitt Clinton.
LS: When and how did you get involved in basketball?
JC: I got involved in basketball in my sophomore year in Dewitt Clinton. I used to play football then I started growing taller and started to play basketball.
LS: So, you started to breakout and grow in your late teens.
JC: Right, every summer in my late teens I was just growing.
LS: Have you always identified yourself as a Puerto Rican?
JC: Yes, always.
LS: Even though you were born there (Bronx, NY)
LS: Your parents, did they teach you Spanish?
JC: No, not as much.
LS: So now, are you trying to learn Spanish.
JC: Since I’m here and hanging out with the guys, making them not speak English to me is helping me. It’s forcing me to make that adjustment.
LS: So, bring us up to date. You graduate from Clinton then what?
JC: I did a post prep so that I could develop my basketball because I felt that basketball was something that I really wanted to do. Then another year I went to All City Prep and there I made a little name for myself.
LS: So, you continued your education, you graduate, majored in communications and how did you get to Puerto Rico? I know that if any of your parents, or grandparents are Puerto Rican you qualify to play in Puerto Rico. When did you learn that?
JC: I always had Puerto Rico in the back of my mind. In my last year of college someone told me about the BSN (Puerto Rico’s professional basketball league). They told me that I should sign up for the draft. So, after my season was over, I got into that, I prepared and luckily, I was picked up.
LS: So, you get picked up by Los Indios?
JC: Correct, this is my rookie year.
LS: So, this is your rookie year you are making some noise in the league. The last game I saw you play you scored 10 points.
JC: (He laughs), Yeah, I guess.
LS: So, have you been to Puerto Rico in the past.
JC: No. This is my first time in Puerto Rico and in April was my first time coming here and I’ve enjoyed it ever since.
LS: So, when you were picked to play in Puerto Rico what was that feeling like?
JC: It was a feeling of reuniting with my ancestry, with my Puerto Rican heritage it was like reconnecting with something that felt like home.
LS: So now that you’re in Puerto Rico, what town do you associate with? I know that your parents are from other towns.
JC: Yes, Arecibo and Ponce (Ironically Jordan played away game against both teams and the Indios won both).
LS: Do you identify with any of those two towns, or with Mayagüez?
JC: I strictly identify with Mayagüez because this is the first place that I came. The first place that I set up shop. This is what I call home.
LS: So, this is your first year and you get called by the people who are trying to put together a national team to represent Puerto Rico on the world stage. You come from the Bronx, you’re in Puerto Rico for the first time and you are told that we need you for the Puerto Rico national team. What was that like?
JC: That was amazing. That was a dream come true. Growing up I have always wanted to represent Puerto Rico knowing that that is where my family is from, that was big. Especially for my grandparents being natives. That was something we always talked about and being selected and having my name on that list that is something that brought tears to my eyes.
LS: What’s your goal now.
JC: My goal is to get better each and every day, wherever that leads me and enjoy the journey that God is going to give me.
LS: What do you consider your strength?
JC: I believe my strength is that I’m going to be the hardest working player on the court. That has brought me a long way, so I know that, and I maintain that every game that I play.
LS: There are many other Puerto Ricans in the states just like you that have never been to Puerto Rico, don’s speak Spanish that might be playing a sport. What is your message for those Nuyorican’s, those Diaspora Puerto Ricans on how you rediscovered who you are?
JC: My message is that there is a lot more than the place you were born into. There is so much more to our heritage, to the world in general. There is so much more than New York. I know that there is so much going on in New York, shootings, some of them were my friends. If you are an aspiring athlete or aspiring in anything, make sure you avoid those dangerous situations and try to live out your dream. There are so many things like when you’re living in New York to pigeonhole you, so try not to limit yourself.
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