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News » Bowen bids farewell

Bowen bids farewell

Bowen bids farewell
A few moments after officially retiring from the NBA on Thursday afternoon, Bruce Bowen delivered a message to one of the players he'd harassed on the court for more than a decade.

Your long nightmare is over.

Steve Nash, he said, "can go ahead and hang up his cup."

The Phoenix Suns guard, famously kneed in the groin by Bowen during the postseason three years ago, joins bedeviled scorers such as Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd and Ray Allen in breathing a little easier today.

The 38-year-old Bowen, regarded as one of the league's most dogged - and notorious - defenders during an eight-year stint with the Spurs , told a media gathering at Yardley's Salon and Spa, the business he owns with his wife, that he was done after a "blessed" career.

"It was a joyous occasion for me to be able to play this long in the NBA," Bowen said. But, he added, "I'm no spring chicken, but more like a rooster now."

The announcement puts an end to a 12-season career that saw the former Cal State-Fullerton headliner remake himself as a smothering lock-down defender in San Antonio after a mercurial career that previously had taken him to France, the CBA, and NBA stops in Miami, Boston and Philadelphia.

Signed by the Spurs in the summer of 2001, Bowen made the NBA's all-defensive first team for five straight years beginning in 2003-04. He also became a solid 3-point threat while serving as the blue-collar background catalyst to three league championships in San Antonio.

"Bruce contributed a great deal to the success of our franchise," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. "He's built a great legacy in the San Antonio community and we all wish him well as he enters into the next phase of his life with his family."

Bowen, who will remain in San Antonio, plans to remain close to Basketball through a hoped-for broadcasting career. He has auditioned for a role with ESPN's coverage of the NBA, and is scheduled to work in an unspecified role with Turner Broadcasting.

"The thing for Bruce is, he needs to find a sense of purpose and something to fill that void," said former Spurs standout Sean Elliott, an analyst on the team's television broadcasts. "That's going to be the toughest thing for someone like Bruce because he works so hard at it."

Bowen also hopes to remain proactive in his many charity and promotional works.

"He's always on the go," said Yardley, his wife of five years. "He's hyper."

As a result, she joked, "I told him when we got married that I expect him out of the house at least four times a week."

Bowen's tenure with the Spurs ended on June 24 when he was part of a three-team trade with the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons that brought scorer Richard Jefferson to San Antonio. After an extended and frustrating wait, during which Milwaukee shopped him around, the Bucks waived him last month.

"He was true team player, competitor, model citizen and a master at his role," Cavaliers center Shaquille O'Neal said when contacted on Twitter. "Tim Duncan owes him like I owe Derek Fisher."

Bowen officially became a free agent Aug. 1 when the Bucks paid $2 million to buy out his $4 million contract for the 2009-10 campaign. But the player, who admitted he had considered retiring after the past five seasons, ignored overtures from a scattering of teams, some reportedly contenders.

"They said all the right things," Bowen said of the flirtations, "but I'm in a different stage in my career."

He stressed that he would not be returning to play later, noting that he has seen several players do that and regret it afterward. But had the Spurs welcomed him back, he likely would have played another season with the Spurs .

By late last season, however, Bowen sensed he would not be part of San Antonio's roster plans. After the deal with Milwaukee, a moribund franchise that he had no intention of joining, his decision was in place.

"I always wanted to leave on my own terms," he said. "I'm able to do that now."


Taking the long way

Bruce Bowen was already 30 when Spurs scouting director Lance Blanks carried a contract to China, where Bowen was on an NBA goodwill tour in 2001. It was one of many stops Bowen made before making San Antonio his home and helping the Spurs win three NBA titles:

1989-93: Cal State-Fullerton - 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds in 101 games.

1993-94: Le Havre (France)

1994-95: ?vreux (France)

1995-96: ?vreux, Fort Wayne Fury (CBA) and Rockford Lightning (CBA)

1996-97: BesanCon (France), Rockford, Miami Heat

1997-99: Boston Celtics

1999-00: Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat

2000-01: Heat - Named NBA All-Defensive second team

2001-02: Signs one-year deal with Spurs for $716,000 after Heat coach Pat Riley says Bowen's skills "can be found and taught."

2002: Spurs re-sign him to three-year deal for $11.2 million after he averages 7.0 points and is named to that second team again.

Source: Express-News research


Career started at age 30

Bruce Bowen repaid the Spurs' faith in him with the following accomplishments:

* Started a franchise-record streak of 500 consecutive games that ended March 14, 2008, when he was suspended for a game.

* Named to NBA's All-Defensive first team from 2003-08.

* In 2002-03, he led NBA in 3-point shooting and helped Spurs win their second NBA title.

* In 2004-05, he averaged career-high 8.2 points per game and Spurs won another title.

* In 2006-07, he finished runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season and Spurs won their fourth title.

Source: Express-News research

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 5, 2009


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