Bowen’s Long Climb to the Rafters


Ken Rodriguez of Spurs.com wrote this nice piece about Bruce Bowen’s journey to basketball success. A MUST READ for all Spurs fans.

Bruce Bowen was a major part of San Antonio's 3 Championship runs.

Bruce Bowen, retired Spur, is making news again. In the tail of an NBA comet named Jeremy Lin, Bowen garners noteworthy mention.

The story of Lin’s ascent from obscure Harvard grad to NBA phenom has spawned sidebars about the best undrafted players in league history. Every Top 10 list I’ve seen includes Bowen.

Unwanted out of Cal-State Fullerton, Bowen became one of the great perimeter defenders of all-time. Dismissed as a one-dimensional player, he led the NBA in three-point shooting in 2002-2003 and retired with three championship rings.

His No. 12 jersey will be hung next month in the AT&T Center rafters. The story of how Bowen secured a place in Spurs lore alongside The Iceman and The Admiral is remarkable. Behind the light of Bowen’s legacy is a journey that began in shadow.

Bowen picks up the phone and calls the head coach at Cal-State Fullerton. Donny Daniels answers. Bowen disguises his voice, lowering it an octave, and delivers a confident pitch.

“This is Bill Engel,” Bowen says, “coach at Edison High School. I’ve got this kid you’ve got to see. He’s really good. About 6-6, 180 pounds. He’s going to be at a tournament near your university. Bruce Bowen. …”

Daniels bites. Days later Bowen drops 38 points in a game, wins tournament MVP honors and changes his future. …

Before Daniels showed up, Bowen had an offer to play for Division II Cal-Poly Pomona. Afterward, Bowen secured a scholarship from the school of his choice. “True story,” he says. “I don’t know why I wanted to go to Cal-State Fullerton. I just did.”

Even then, Bowen was creative and resourceful. Determined, too. He needed to be. After four years in college, the NBA ignored him. In response, Bowen took his game to Europe.

He averaged 30 points his first season in France but didn’t get along with the coach. Bowen played two more seasons in France, spent a third in the Continental Basketball Association and was once cut by the Fort Wayne Fury.

The Bowen resume looked hopeless. Who in the NBA would take a chance on a guy cut in the CBA? The Heat, it turns out, plucked him from the Rockford Lightning of the CBA and signed him to a 10-day contract in 1997. Bowen’s stat line: One minute and one blocked shot in one game.

The NBA door now open, Bowen bounced from the Celtics to the 76ers and back to the Heat over the next four seasons, a journeyman with this assessment from the DraftExpress scouting report: “Below average athlete and all-around talent. Learned how to become a good enough spot-up shooter from the corners to not be a complete offensive liability.”

If his story had ended there, he would have been celebrated in Fresno for rising from nowhere to the NBA. But Bowen wanted more and found a way to stand out.

Read the complete article at Spurs.com

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6 thoughts on “Bowen’s Long Climb to the Rafters

  1. Bowen is one of my favorite Spur, together with the Admiral and the Iceman, this was a great write up. Thanks for sharing.

    Bowen’s hard work, determination and craftiness is one of kind, he deserves his jersey to be retired in San Antonio for sure.

  2. Bowen’s success story is very inspiring, his dedication to his craft is admirable and the way he helped the Spurs to win 3 titles deserves proper recognition.

  3. Bowen may not be the most athletic guy on the court, but his basketball IQ and his defensive prowess really helped the Spurs win championship.

  4. The biggest tribute someone receives from their employer’s is a banner with your name and number hanging from the Rafters with all the other greats from the past and present, its just another away for the franchise to say THANK YOU for the outstanding job you did for us, the community, and the fans, while wearing the Black and Silver. A new street should have his name pretty soon I hope, it should be name Bruuuuuuuce12. There is only one more place left to go and thats the NBA’s HOF. GO SPURS GO

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