Bruce Bowen, always considered a ferocious defensive player in the NBA, recently opened up about his past bad boy reputation.
I have many fond memories of Bowen in his tenure with the San Antonio Spurs. He provided the team with much needed tenacity and toughness on the defensive end, much to the chagrin of opposing players. The joy that I felt when players he faced were brought to near tears after Bruce would practically climb inside their jerseys while defending them.
But that brand of defense came with a price – a reputation as being a dirty player in the league.
In an interview with Spanish site Marca.com, Bruce was asked about his thoughts on his perceived dirty play, and if he ever tried to hurt anyone. Bowen had this to say about an “>incident involving one of his chief rivals – then Seattle SuperSonic Ray Allen.
"I understand that those comments come from rival fans and sometimes they were right. But never did I intentionally try to hurt anyone. There was only one other time that I did it deliberately and that was when I gave a kick to Ray Allen when he played in Seattle. He was in front and I gave him a kick and when I thought, ' What did I just do?'. I regret that play."
"Later I understood the criticism. At first it bothered me a lot. I had worked very hard to fit in the league and within the sport that I love and people said I was dirty. How could people think that of me? But after some time I realized that is the opinion of the people and everyone has one. I respect and I have no problems with people who think that way about me, because it's their opinion and I understand."
"There are fans who respect me and who think I played hard but not doing anything illegal, but others do not. Everyone has an opinion and it does not bother me, I cannot change what happened."
I applaud you Bruce for your candor and admission of guilt.
But without his brand of defense, would the Spurs have captured three titles when he was in black and silver? In the postseason, he guarded top players from Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Steve Nash and a young LeBron James in the 2007 NBA Finals. Without him, it is tough to say the Spurs would be hanging three extra title banners in the AT&T Center after 1999.
Yet despite his detractors (and the fact he never won the NBA's Defensive Player award) Bowen does have the final laugh – his jersey is retired in San Antonio.
My only wish would be that you would have been on the court in the last Finals to karate kick the ball out of Allen's' hands when he lined up for that fateful three-pointer. Well, hands or head, either one.
(via Hoops Hype)