Throughout last night’s San Antonio Spurs vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game, fans in the AT&T Center saw a new addition to the Spurs rafters covered by a black curtain.
After a 16-point win against those Timberwolves, the Spurs revealed the number 12 jersey hanging behind that curtain. After eight seasons and being a key part of three championships with San Antonio, Bowen’s jersey joins the elite class of Spurs icons including Johnny Moore, James Silas, George Gervin, Sean Elliott, David Robinson and Avery Johnson and the number 12 jersey will never be worn by another Spur again.
Aside from close family and friends, Bowen was joined by former and current players, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford.
“He was not only one of the best defenders the Spurs organization has ever seen, but also one of the best defenders in the NBA,” former Spurs forward Sean Elliott said prior to the jersey unveiling.
Bowen’s teammate from 2001-2003, David Robinson, called Bowen a warrior.
“He was a warrior night in and night out,” Robinson said. “It’s so funny because when you look at him and talk to him, he’s one of the nicest guys in the world, but then he gets on the court and climbs inside somebody’s shorts and irritates them to death. That feistiness, that energy rubbed off on all of us and made us better as a team.”
Popovich said he was amazed that Bowen played 500 consecutive games and noted that each one of those games, Bowen always took on the opposing team’s best scorer. It’s probably safe to say Spurs guard Manu Ginobili will never reach such a streak.
“Eight seasons in a row, nine seasons in a row. I can’t even play 8 games in a row,” Ginobili said.
Bowen said Ginobili was one of the pieces added to the Spurs that helped the Spurs win three of four championships.
“To the great man here, Gregg Popovich, who taught me to take the high road even when I didn’t want to,” Bowen said. “He taught me also that vanilla…the special thing about vanilla ice cream, you can add to it, you can add a 50, you can add a 21, you can add a 9, you can add a numero veinte so with all that that has been added, I think there is four championships here.”
After speaking about his teammates saying he was glad he was kind to Parker in France and found out about Ginobili’s toughness the first day he was at the practice facility, Bowen ended the ceremony fighting back tears while thanking his teammates.
“It allowed me to be a better person to share the floor with these gentlemen right here,” Bowen said.
After playing for three teams in France, playing for the Rockford Lightning in the CBA and becoming an NBA journeyman, Bowen finally found a home with the Spurs in 2001. Along with being a three-time NBA champion, Bowen was also named to the All-NBA Defensive first and second teams eight teams and was twice a runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year award.
While Bowen struggled through a rough childhood and fought at every level to finally become part of a championship team, Bowen noted that rough road for making him the player and person he is now.
“The best you can do in life is to get back up and try again.”