Thursday , Sep , 03 , 2009 Christopher Sells

Bye-Bye Bowen

Bruce Bowen spent his career defending the best players and his reputation. Now that he has announced his retirement, how will he be remembered?

Bye-Bye BowenTeams all over the league are breathing a sigh of relief. Small forwards’ and shooting guards’ words will likely be respectful, but inside they are happy to not have one less elite defender to worry about.

After 12 seasons, Bruce Bowen is calling it a career. Reports of Ray Allen and Vince Carter popping bottles of champagne in celebration are totally believable, but unconfirmed.

Despite your personal opinions of Bowen, you have to respect him and his career path. After going undrafted out of Cal State-Fullerton, Bowen played overseas and in the CBA before getting a real shot at the NBA. He was a bit player at  first, bouncing around to a few teams before settling in Miami and being named to his first NBA All-Defensive Team. He would sign with San Antonio the next season, where he became the player we’re all familiar with.

His retirement isn’t surprising. He saw a reduced role with the Spurs last year, coming off the bench for most of the season and averaging the fewest minutes since 2000. In the offseason, the 38 year old was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks along with other players for the younger, more offensive-minded Richard Jefferson. Bowen was released about a month later, clearly never a part of the Bucks’ long-term plans. And now, about a month later, he held a press conference to tell the world that he had harassed his final NBA player, hit his final three from the corner and taken his final charge.

Bowen’s career was not without controversy. Yes, he kicked Wally Szczerbiak in the face. He kicked Ray Allen in the back. He may or may not have been guilty of putting his feet under landing jump-shooters. Ditto kicking Amare Stoudemire. He gave Steve Nash a shot to the midsection that may have been intentional. And so on.

But it’s hard to argue with being an eight-time All-NBA Defender and a starter and key contributor for three NBA Championship teams. Bowen became a hard-nosed defender in an era where defense was eschewed and gained the respect of most of his peers and coaches around the league. He will reportedly parlay that respect into some broadcasting gigs, where he’ll be able to use his knowledge of D and his bilingualism to continue to contribute to the game even though he’ll no longer be a player on the court. Bowen was never an All-Star and he won’t ever make it to the Hall of Fame, but he’s the type of player that every team with winning aspirations needs.

There’s nothing dirty about that.

What will be your lasting impression of Bruce Bowen be? Leave your comments and thoughts below.