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Bruce Bowen

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This article is about the former NBA player. For the former basketball player in Australia, see Bruce Bolden.
Bruce Bowen
Bruce Bowen 2009.jpg
Bowen with the Spurs in 2009
Personal information
Born (1971-06-14) June 14, 1971 (age 44)
Merced, California
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)
Listed weight 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school Edison (Fresno, California)
College Cal State Fullerton (1989–1993)
NBA draft 1993 / Undrafted
Pro career 1993–2009
Position Small forward
Number 3, 12,15
Career history
1993–1994 Le Havre (France)
1994–1995 Évreux (France)
1995 Fort Wayne Fury (CBA)
1995–1996 Rockford Lightning (CBA)
1996–1997 Besançon (France)
1997 Rockford Lightning (CBA)
1997 Miami Heat
19971999 Boston Celtics
1999–2000 Philadelphia 76ers
20002001 Miami Heat
20012009 San Antonio Spurs
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 5,290 (6.1 ppg)
Rebounds 2,428 (2.8 rpg)
Assists 1,089 (1.2 apg)
Stats at

Bruce Eric Bowen Jr. (born June 14, 1971) is an American former professional basketball player. Bowen played small forward and graduated from Edison High School[2] and Cal State Fullerton. He went on to play for the National Basketball Association's Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and the Continental Basketball Association's Rockford Lightning, and also played abroad in France.

One of the most feared perimeter "lockdown" defenders in NBA history, Bowen was elected to the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams eight times, and was a member of the Spurs teams that won the NBA championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007.[3] Off the court, Bowen became an informal ambassador for child obesity awareness. He currently works as an analyst for ESPN.

Early years[edit]

Bruce Bowen Jr. was born in Merced, California as son of Bruce Bowen Sr. and Dietra Campbell. Bowen had a problematic childhood growing up in Merced, because, he claims, his mother took drugs and even sold the family TV to feed her habit.[2] Bruce Jr. spent his days playing basketball and eventually became a star in the local West Fresno Edison High School squad.[2] He then played four seasons at Cal State Fullerton, appearing in 101 games, and averaged 11.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.[4] After averaging 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 36.6 minutes in 27 games as a senior in 1992–93, he was named to the All-Big West Conference First Team. Bowen ranks 12th on the Titans' all-time list in career points (1,155) and is seventh all-time in rebounds (559).[5]

Professional career[edit]

Early struggles (1993–1997)[edit]

After finishing his four-year college eligibility, Bowen was eligible for the 1993 NBA draft, but went undrafted. Instead, he seemed to be destined to become a journeyman athlete. Between 1993 and 1997, Bowen played for five different teams, starting his professional career for the French teams of Le Havre in 1993–94 and Évreux the following season. In 1995–96 he played in the CBA with Rockford Lightning; he spent the next season back in France with Besançon, before returning to the Lightning in February 1997. Bowen made his NBA debut when he was signed to a ten-day contract by the Miami Heat the following month. His output consisted of 1 game, 1 minute and 1 block.[4][5]

Getting settled (1997–2001)[edit]

In the 1997–98 NBA season, Bowen reappeared in the NBA, having been signed by the Boston Celtics. With the Celtics, Bowen slowly established himself in the NBA. In his first full year as an NBA player, he appeared in 61 games (nine of them as starter) with the Celtics, averaging 5.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.43 steals in 21.4 minutes per game, shooting .409 from the field, .339 from three-point land and .623 from the free throw line.[4] The next year was a disappointment for him, as Bowen appeared in only 30 Celtics games, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game.[4]

In the 1999–2000 NBA season, Bowen signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, and was later traded to the Chicago Bulls and immediately waived, then picked up off waivers by the Miami Heat. In that season, he wore jersey #12 instead of #30 and appeared in 69 games, averaging 2.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game, and scored in double-figures six times.[4] In the following year, Bowen was retained by the Heat. In that year, he had his breakout season. For the first time in his career, he played in all 82 regular season games, averaged 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.01 steals in 32.7 minutes per game and set new single season career-highs in games, points, rebounds, assists, blocks, minutes, field goals made and attempted, three-point goals made and attempted and free throws made and attempted.[4] Bowen logged more minutes (2,685 vs. 2,678), scored more points (623 vs. 606) and hit more threes (103 vs. 54) than he had in his first four seasons combined.[4] Especially, Bowen earned himself a reputation as a defensive stopper. For his strong perimeter defense, he was voted into the All-Defensive Second Team.[3]

San Antonio Spurs (2001–2009)[edit]

In the 2001–02 NBA season, Bowen was signed by the San Antonio Spurs. He joined a championship-caliber team, led by veteran Hall-of-Fame center David Robinson and young power forward Tim Duncan, complemented by talented role players like Steve Smith, Malik Rose, Antonio Daniels and point guards Terry Porter and Tony Parker. Bowen established himself as a starter, beginning in each of his 59 regular-season games.[4] In that season, Bowen received his first of several fines: he had to pay $7,500 for kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the face during a March 1, 2002 game.[6] In the 2002 NBA Playoffs, Bowen started in all 10 Spurs playoffs games, where the team eventually succumbed to the Los Angeles Lakers. For his feats, Bowen earned himself his second All-Defensive Second Team nomination,[4] although some peers and sports analysts accused him of being a "dirty" defender.[7]

In the next season, Bowen started in all 82 regular season games for the second time in his career and averaged 7.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 31.3 minutes per game. Again, he was voted into the All-Defensive Second Team and was a member of the Spurs team which won the 2003 NBA Finals. At age 31, the one-time journeyman Bowen had won his first championship ring as a starter.[4] In the following three seasons, Bowen established a reputation as one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, earning three straight All-Defensive First Team elections and ending as runner-up in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award votings twice, losing to post defender Ben Wallace.[8][9]

Having established himself as the premier defensive backcourt player, Bowen's effective, but hard nosed style of play came under discussion. In particular, rival guards Vince Carter and Steve Francis accused him of encroaching into their landing space during their jumpshot.[7] Inside Hoops columnist M.J. Darnell commented: "They're whining because Bruce Bowen has frustrated, upset, hurt or angered them in some way.... He just plays tough, physical defense, does not play with any intent to injure, but isn't afraid to get in someone's grill".[10] Bowen's defensive style failed to help this Spurs squad repeat in the 2004 NBA Playoffs, as the team was eventually defeated 4–2 by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Bowen and the Spurs bounced back and won the NBA title in 2005, defeating the Detroit Pistons. The Spurs could not win back-to-back titles, however, and bowed out 4–3 in a seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 NBA Playoffs. As a testament to his controversial style of play, Bowen picked up a $10,000 NBA fine for kicking Ray Allen in the back during a March 2006 game.[11]

In the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the Spurs played against the Phoenix Suns, and Bowen became the center of controversy. His knee contacted Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash's groin, knocking Nash to the floor. Also in that series, forward–center Amar'e Stoudemire accused Bowen of kicking him during a game, but the NBA reviewed and dismissed the claim.[12] ESPN columnist Bill Simmons commented that Bowen was "a cheap player who's going to seriously hurt someone someday", but Simmons also acknowledged that Bowen "ultimately makes his team better."[13] The Spurs went on to beat the Suns, and Bowen's defense contributed to the Spurs winning their fourth championship in the 2007 NBA Finals.[14]

In the 2007–08 NBA season, the now 36-year-old veteran Bowen played and started in 81 of 82 regular season games, earning his fifth straight nomination in the NBA All-Defensive First Team.[3] Ever controversial, Bowen was fined $7,000 and suspended for one game for kicking Chris Paul after Paul had fallen to the floor during a March 12, 2008 game.[15] Bowen finished as the runner-up behind Marcus Camby for the league's defensive player of the year award.[14] In the 2008 NBA Playoffs, Bowen was unable to stop Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who averaged 28.3 points and helped L.A. beat the Spurs in five games.[16] Bowen started in every Spurs regular season and playoff game from 2001 to 2008.[3]

The 2008–09 NBA season was to be Bowen's last with the Spurs. Although he played in 80 regular season games, he was no longer a starter as was the case in the previous seven San Antonio campaigns.[3] His minutes were also greatly reduced (from 30+ to 18.9 per game), although his shooting numbers remained consistent.[3] The Spurs went into the 2009 NBA Playoffs with a 54–28 record and as the third seed. With influential shooting guard Manu Ginóbili out injured, the Spurs got off to a bad start to the series and eventually lost 4–1 against the Dallas Mavericks, bowing out of the playoffs in the first round for the first time since 2000.[17]

On June 23, 2009, Bowen was traded along with Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto to the Milwaukee Bucks for Richard Jefferson.[18] He was released on July 31, 2009 and retired on September 3, 2009.[19]

On March 21, 2012, the Spurs retired Bowen's #12 jersey. Bowen's jersey is the seventh retired by the Spurs.[20] With Bowen's blessing, the Spurs unretired the number 12 for incoming free agent LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015.

International career[edit]

In 2006 U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski invited Bowen to join the United States men's national basketball team, which participated in the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Japan. At 35, he was the oldest player to participate; Krzyzewski said that the team needed a defensive player like Bowen. However, Bowen received little playing time, despite the injuries of fellow swingmen and guards Antawn Jamison, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. Although he participated in several training sessions and training camps, Bowen was eventually cut from the team. He expressed disappointment and said he hoped to make the 2008 Olympics squad,[21] but was not named to the team in the end.

Player profile[edit]

Bowen (no. 12) contesting a layup in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2007

The 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m), 200 lb (91 kg) Bowen played the small forward, and occasionally the shooting guard, position.[4] He had a reputation for being one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, earning himself eight consecutive nominations for the NBA All-Defensive First and Second Teams from 2001 to 2008.[3][22] From 2005 to 2007, he was second in voting for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award, beaten only by centers Ben Wallace (2005 and 2006)[8][9] and Marcus Camby (2007)[14] who are both post defenders.

Bowen was not known for his offensive production. He was seldom sought on offense, having never attempted more than 600 field goals in an entire 82-game regular season, and his career averages of 6.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game, and .566 foul shooting were considered mediocre, never earning him nominations for NBA All-Star or All-NBA First or Second Teams.[3] His foul shooting, in fact, was poor enough that he was at times been made the target of the Hack-a-Shaq defense. However, opposing teams could not leave Bowen wide open on offense, because he was also an accurate three-point shooter (.393 career average on 2,082 attempts), particularly from the corner.[3] In addition, despite his age Bowen played 500 consecutive games between February 28, 2002 and March 12, 2008, leading Sports Illustrated to name him in 2007 the "Iron Man" of the NBA.[23]

Responding to fan e-mail in 2005, Bowen stated that defense is "a little bit of talent and a lot of work; being able to take on the challenge of going up against the top guys, even when you didn't win that battle. Being able to come back the next day and try again—I think that's the most important thing." He also stressed that the key to being a good basketball player was to "work hard and make sure you have fun with the game more than anything else." Bowen mentioned that he considered small forward Carmelo Anthony and shooting guard Ray Allen to be among the most difficult players to guard.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Bowen is the son of Bruce Bowen Sr. and Dietra Campbell. He told a reporter of having a problematic childhood, plagued by his mother's drug addiction and his father's alcohol problems.[2] Today, Bowen is estranged from his parents and several relatives, instead looking up to his childhood friend Quinn Crozier and to Robert and Sandra Thrash, a Los Angeles couple whom he regards as his adoptive parents.[2][25] Bowen is married to Yardley Barbon, a Miami native of Cuban descent,[26] and the couple have two sons, Ojani (born September 7, 2005) and Ozmel (born June 9, 2007).[4] He often speaks out against child obesity and runs his own "Get fit with Bruce and Buddy" program for children's healthy nutrition and daily sports activities. He is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns football team. He runs the Bruce Bowen Foundation, an organization set up to provide scholarships and bursaries. In 2006, he received a college degree in communications from Cal State Fullerton; he had also taken classes at the University of Texas at San Antonio.[27] He has stated that he wants to become a teacher.[4]

NBA career statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denote seasons in which Bowen won an NBA Championship

Regular season[edit]

1996–97 Miami 1 0 1.0 .000 .000 .000 .0 .0 .0 1.0 .0
1997–98 Boston 61 9 21.4 .409 .339 .623 2.9 1.3 1.4 .5 5.6
1998–99 Boston 30 1 16.5 .280 .269 .458 1.7 .9 .7 .3 2.3
1999–00 Philadelphia 42 0 7.4 .356 .500 .500 .9 .4 .2 .1 1.4
1999–00 Miami 27 2 21.0 .380 .464 .613 2.2 .7 .5 .4 5.1
2000–01 Miami 82 72 32.7 .363 .336 .609 3.0 1.6 1.0 .6 7.6
2001–02 San Antonio 59 59 28.8 .389 .378 .479 2.7 1.5 1.0 .4 7.0
2002–03 San Antonio 82 82 31.3 .466 .441 .404 2.9 1.4 .8 .5 7.1
2003–04 San Antonio 82 82 32.0 .420 .363 .579 3.1 1.4 1.0 .4 6.9
2004–05 San Antonio 82 82 32.0 .420 .403 .634 3.5 1.5 .7 .5 8.2
2005–06 San Antonio 82 82 33.6 .433 .424 .607 3.9 1.5 1.0 .4 7.5
2006–07 San Antonio 82 82 30.0 .405 .384 .589 2.7 1.4 .8 .3 6.2
2007–08 San Antonio 81 81 30.2 .407 .419 .652 2.9 1.1 .7 .3 6.0
2008–09 San Antonio 80 10 18.9 .422 .429 .538 1.8 .5 .4 .2 2.7
Career 873 644 27.6 .409 .393 .575 2.8 1.2 .8 .3 6.1


2000 Miami 10 0 15.7 .370 .227 .625 1.0 .8 .7 .4 3.5
2001 Miami 3 3 19.3 .313 .250 .000 .7 .7 .7 .7 4.0
2002 San Antonio 10 10 34.5 .410 .440 .500 3.3 1.4 1.1 .7 6.8
2003 San Antonio 24 24 31.3 .372 .438 .548 2.9 1.6 .8 .7 6.9
2004 San Antonio 10 10 29.8 .365 .379 .231 2.9 1.0 .4 .3 6.0
2005 San Antonio 23 23 35.4 .359 .433 .647 2.9 1.6 .5 .6 5.7
2006 San Antonio 13 13 34.0 .525 .500 .500 2.2 1.2 .9 .6 6.2
2007 San Antonio 20 20 34.5 .395 .446 .500 4.1 1.3 1.4 .2 6.5
2008 San Antonio 17 17 29.9 .398 .407 .727 1.9 1.4 .6 .3 6.1
2009 San Antonio 5 2 26.0 .538 .556 1.000 3.0 .6 .6 .0 4.2
Career 135 122 31.0 .394 .422 .553 2.7 1.3 .8 .5 6.0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ On July 19, 2015, Bowen gave permission to LaMarcus Aldridge to wear #12 jersey. That doesn't mean his jersey is unretired![1]


  1. ^ "With Bowen’s blessing, Spurs to give No. 12 to Aldridge". MySA. July 9, 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Wise, Mike (June 14, 2007). "Bowen Has Every Right and Reason to Be Defensive". Retrieved May 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bruce Bowen Statistics". April 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Bruce Bowen Info Page". April 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b "USA Basketball: Bio of Bruce Bowen". April 11, 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Bowen's foul reclassified as flagrant by league". March 3, 2002. Retrieved March 8, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b Burns, Marty (April 11, 2007). "Is Bruce Bowen a Dirty Player?". Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "Awards Voting for 2004–05". April 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  9. ^ a b "Awards Voting for 2005–06". April 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  10. ^ Darnell, M.J. (April 13, 2004). "Throwin' 'Bows". Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Stoudemire calls Bowen, Ginobili 'dirty' players". May 10, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Stoudemire says Bowen tried to injure him in Game 2". May 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  13. ^ Simmons, Bill (May 21, 2007). "Thinking about the NBA playoffs while web surfing". Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b c "Parker, Spurs Close Out Cavs for Fourth Title". June 15, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "dpoy07" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "dpoy07" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  15. ^ "Bruce Bowen suspended for kicking Chris Paul, consecutive games streak ends at 500". March 14, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2008. 
  16. ^ "PNBA Playoffs 2008 – Western Conference". October 25, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  17. ^ Weber, Paul (April 29, 2009). "Mavericks oust Spurs from playoffs with 106–93 win". Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Spurs Obtain Richard Jefferson". June 24, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2009. 
  19. ^ "Bruce Bowen retires after 12 seasons". September 3, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Spurs to Retire Bruce Bowen’s No. 12 Jersey on March 21". January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  21. ^ Ludden, Johnny (April 11, 2007). "Bowen disappointed at missing U.S. cut". Retrieved March 9, 2008. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Kobe, Garnett Headline All-Defensive Team". May 12, 2008. Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  23. ^ "NBA's Most Underpaid Players". April 11, 2007. Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Spurs Mailbox: Bruce Bowen". Retrieved March 9, 2008. 
  25. ^ Wise, Mike (June 3, 2003). "Planting a New Family Tree". New York Times. 
  26. ^ Bruce Bowen defends NBA-ers as closely as he guards his family
  27. ^ "UTSA holds annual Athletics Banquet on Thursday night". Retrieved November 23, 2012.

External links[edit]