NBA / Sep 3, 2009 / 5:26 pm

After retirement, what’s next for Bruce Bowen?

Bruce Bowen

Bruce Bowen

In the end, the fact that Bruce Bowen was essentially sacrificed so that the San Antonio Spurs could have a better chance at winning another championship was somewhat symbolic of what he meant to the team.

When Bowen was traded to Milwaukee this offseason as part of the deal to get Richard Jefferson, I expected he would eventually get bought out and return to the Spurs as a minimum-salary player, similar to Antonio McDyess spending five minutes on the Nuggets last year before returning to the Pistons. But realistically, there wouldn’t have been much room for Bowen in the team’s rotation, which is why he became expendable in the first place. After drawing some interest from contenders like the Celtics and Cavs, Bowen ultimately decided to walk away from the game at 38 years old, which he announced in a press conference earlier today.

“It was just about being able to say, ‘All right, it’s done,'” Bowen was quoted in the San Antonio Express-News. Bowen said he already had an audition with ESPN earlier this week, and will talk to TNT soon.

With three NBA championships, eight NBA All-Defensive selections, and always a crucial part of the Spurs’ offense with his corner threes, Bowen will go down as one of the greatest role players of his era and one of its top defenders. And, whether you think he deserves it or not, he’ll also be remembered as one of the League’s dirtiest players. He was a self-made pro, an undrafted wing out of Cal State-Fullerton who played in France and in some American minor leagues before finally getting his shot in the NBA. Eventually changing his style into a defensive lock-down specialist, Bowen found his niche and grew into a champion. And even at 38 and clearly declining, he could still get on a roster if he wanted to.

Bowen isn’t a Hall of Famer, but do you think the Spurs should someday retire #12 in his honor?

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  • http://www.niketalk.yuku.com/forums/8 NTstateOFmind

    jumpshooters rejoice!!!

  • Yoooo

    Retire? For what??

  • jksonics

    so here is one for you then: Who’s better – Horry or Bowen?

  • http://www.bigtmusic.com Balla
  • nola

    whatever, hate on his dirty antics or whatever. this is a competition, whatever it takes to win. he deserves his jersey retired absolutely. the battles between him and kobe were the most amazing to watch. not to mention him vs cp3 is awesome as well.

  • MadSammyboy

    His jersey should definitely get hung up. He was arguably the fourth most important player on three championship teams. I know he’ll never get into the HOF, but it mystifies me that someone who was arguably the best perimeter defender of his era, and who was a proven winner, wouldn’t at least get some HOF talk. Defense is half of the game, and few did it better than Bowen.

  • fatpark

    UFC UFC!!!

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Nab too many defensive roll players throughout history that played the same roll that didn’t get there jersey retired.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    If the Blazers retired Mark Gross’ #30, San Antonio has to retire Bowen’s number.

  • Yoshi

    of cos it should be retired…i mean Avery Johnsons jersey is retired in SA…I think Bowen has been more important to SA than Avery Johnson (Avery Johnson was a great floor leader on ONE championship team no doubt…but Bowen was just a monster on D on THREE championship teams

    12 should be hung up next to D-Rob, Iceman, Sean Elliot and Avery Johnsons.

  • Brown

    San Antonio is one of the classiest organizations around. He was vital to their championship teams and I’d bet on SA retiring his jersey. Might not be this year or next, but definitely down the line.

  • Me

    Hell no! Since when does being a specialist role player mean hof and jersey retirement? Does Derek fisher deserve it? Aaron mckie? Paxson? Boobie Gibson? Matt bullard? Fuck dat!

  • willsmithismydad

    @yoshi exactly what i was thinking. bruce bowen contributed way more than avery johnson ever did

  • Cameron

    You should have to average 10 points in your career at least once before getting your jersey retired.

  • cesar


    i couldnt agree more!

  • sunni

    he was one of the top lock down defenders in the league..only few people stand up like that to kobe in the last 5 years on a consistent basis..artest and bowen…his number should be retired for sure..self made man==wasnt no north carolina freshman who played 5 mins a night in college and got drafted lottery..this dude hustled his way to 3 championships…3 freakin championships

  • theArsenal

    Who the Hell cares?

  • Josh Tha roc


    Anyone who cares about nba. bowen has been a big part on a big time team for a long time.

  • Colton

    this may not be very gramatically sound, but ME is retarded. that is in reference to post 12. haha. anyways. really?

    i would put up money that theyd retire his number ,,, any takers?

    he may not be the best. hall of fame. i dont think so, but a little talk about it would be acceptable. haha. but retired jersey after lockin down plenty of great players on the road to three nba championships. very likely. ive heard the phrase defense wins champioships … and id like to say he was a pretty intrical part to bringing home some trophies. which id constitute as worthy of a retired jersey.

  • Yoshi


    Role players can get into the HOF if their contributions have been significant!!! Bowen and boobie gibson r role players…but u cant tell me that bowen hasnt had a huge contribution to the spurs and the game this decade

    I think his jersey should be retired, but not 100% sure he should get any HOF consideration, but wouldnt rule it out just yet

    Tell me about about all the role players on the 60’s Celtics…aren’t some of them in the HOF?

    And tell me this…look up the jerseys the Cavs and the bucks have retired…i think retiring bowens is fair game in comparison

  • SJ

    Bowen will be missed on the court. He’s a great player and great man. Props to the man for his outstanding community involvement, which I’m sure will continue outside of his NBA career.

  • Zach R.


    “Steve Nash, he said, can ‘go ahead and hang up his cup.'”

    -Bruce at the press conference Thursday.

  • sh!tfaced

    Somebody should hire Bowen as an assistant coach/trainer, he could teach younger players all the dirty tricks he mastered during his playing career.

  • mtindore520

    IMHO, he should have his jersey retired in SA, and on another note Michael Cooper needs his #21 retired in L.A., 5 rings, 8 All-Defense, 1 D.P.O.Y., Coop is the ultimate defensive role player, and should be looked at for H.O.F. before Bowen…

  • kowtz

    Each team except SA should retire his jersey…

    The ankles of their star players are now safe when they take jumpers…

  • OC

    If Bruce is a dirty defensive player, then Kobe and CP3 are dirty offensive player. Of course most people won’t see it that way.

    Bruce will get his number retired, no doubt. He was too important to the Spurs for them not to retire it. Not just on the court either. He’s contributed a lot to the community of San Antonio. He’s been an all around good guy.

  • weng santos

    We can’t all be franchise players. Superstars aren’t always champions.

    Bowen is a winner. And a contributor. He took the role he was given and played it to the best of his ability. With the way the Spurs play, having him on the floor was just as important as TD, Parker, or Manu playing.

    3 rings would have been possible, but more difficult, had bown not been around to do this thing.

    Down the line, his jersey needs to be on that wall.

  • SJ

    Bowen was NOT a dirty player. Two years ago, nobody would have said this crap. All of you folks who call him a dirty player just jumped on the bandwagon when you heard some people say this. He’s a hard-nosed defensive role player. He locks down damn near anyone he guards. Like #26 above said, he’s no more dirty than Kobe or Chris Paul.

  • JDW

    When it come to retired Jersey, NY Knicks (Team Irrelavant right now) need to raise Charles Oakley’s Jersey into the rafters. Oakley was the voice/heart and and soul of the Knicks. He lead the league in total Rebounds, played 82 games a year, was All Defensive Team (1st and 2nd) during his time with teh team. You knew what you’d get from Oakley and the other team knew as well. Good citizen, awesome quotes, just all around good for the Team, the City and the Fans.

  • jzsmoove

    Number retired, yes. HOF, no. San An will definitely honor his contributions to the franchise no doubt, book it.

  • JH

    Bowen’s jersey retired in SA? Check.
    HOF? Probably not.

    But to compare Boobie Gibson & Aaron Mckie to Bowen is ridiculous. They are role players…but how many rings does Gibson and Mckie have between them?

  • baron von faulk

    BRUUUUUCE! I’ll miss hearing hearing that when he shoots a 3 from the corner.

    Number retired – DEFINITELY, needs to replace that traitor Avery Johnson’s jersey matter of fact.

    HOF – hell no. Robert Horry should be in the HOF ahead of Bowen, but he won’t get there either. 7 rings will have to be enough for Horry. Bruce has no shot.

    . . . . . . . . .

    Bruce couldn’t even win DPOY thanks to the Press and their fascination with Ben Wallace.

    The season he was totally robbed was 2006-07 when he was clearly the best defender in the League all season. But “Who won?” you may be aks-kin’?

    Marcus freakin’ Camby…for Denver…which gave up 110 pts/gm.