nba | Bruce Bowen: “Those who are surprised by European players may not know much”

There is a party for the NBA finals in Colonia Roma in Mexico City. Gothe gorilla from the Phoenix Suns, and Slamson the Lionthe mascot of the Sacramento Kings, dance to the rhythm of the trance while the crystal balls reflect the neon lights. Hidden behind the tumult, just beyond the drinks bar, the Larry O’Brien Trophy rests as if on a throne, while majestically witnessing the invitation from a distance. The other special guest appears almost out of nowhere, as if he were one more. The attendees don’t seem to recognize him, but he has three rings kept at home and his iconic number 12 is hanging from the AT&T Center. It is Bruce Bowen, one of the greatest defenders of the decade 2000-2010 (including five times in the first defensive quintet), the first squire of the indelible trident Duncan-Parker-Ginobili. His reputation as rude and inconsiderate with his rivals on the court contrasts with his face before the media.

– What is your favorite team in the NBA Finals?

It’s hard to have a favorite team when I was ‘all Spurs’, but it’s great to see this style of basketball today. After the Spurs, there was no other team that copied what we did; You would see teams doing different things, like the Golden State Warriors, with their three-point shooting strategy. But what I see with the Denver Nuggets, with Nikola Jokic being able to start the offense… what impressed me about him is that it’s very difficult to double-team him at the top of the key, but he also understands the game enough to know when double-teaming is coming with him and release the ball quickly. You see Jamal Murray sticking out now, which reminds me of the pick & roll we did with Tim (Duncan) and Tony (Parker), but ours was more in the middle of the court. Murray is very creative and you have Jokic, who is not selfish, looking for ways to get involved in the game. It’s a pleasure to watch this team. At one point I played with the Miami Heat: (Erik) Spoelstra (Heat assistant 1999-2001) used to design the rebounds for me. I’m proud of him, to see how far he’s come. The team has always had that culture of competitiveness. They don’t back down on anyone. And you can’t do that, because if you back out you end up watching the finals on TV instead of playing them.

– Do you think Victor Wembanyama will stand out with Spurs and be what everyone expects of him?

We have not seen anything similar to Victor. Someone that size capable of having those abilities. The closest thing we’ve seen to him was Manute Bol, though only in his ability to shoot 3s. Manute couldn’t take the shot of him. You see Victor do things we’ve never seen before. I’m very excited if the Spurs take him to see what ‘Pop’ (Gregg Popovich) and the staff can do with him. ‘Pop’ has the ability to bring out the unimaginable in a player. when we had it like coach, he knew perfectly well who could adapt to a certain role.

– What memories do you have of the team you joined, those Spurs that were such winners in the early 2000s?

What we wanted then was to be our best version. If something happened, like being a champion, it was already the icing on the cake. Now, being in this position, I am very proud of the group we had and more proud of the fact that I have shared with people whom I consider my friends. Manu (Ginobili), Tim (Duncan), Tony (Parker), David (Robinson). When we get together we have a great time. It’s not like I see an ex-partner and we just say hello. We stayed to see each other, we went to dinner, we reflected on what we experienced. That’s what it’s all about.

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– What do you think about the current way of playing in the NBA? Do you like it?

I think the best athletes in the world fit. I like the fact that these playoffs have been very physical. It’s not like it was in the 90s, but I’m still happy with how the game is, seeing how the individualities continue to improve. About Stephen Curry a lot of people say ‘he’s a great shooter’. Yes, but they don’t realize that he has the ability to create those shots and believe in him, believe in those shots that in another era would be considered bad. It has changed a generation of children. Now, anyone can throw confidence; Before, if they missed three shots in a row, they’d rather go for a layup after. I like where the game is now and the creativity. The NBA is creating great opportunities for fans to get involved in the game and develop a passion for the teams.

– Do you consider that Popovich is the best coach in history?

I don’t think he likes to be called the greatest coach ever, because there have been many. It has been a great honor for me to be trained by ‘Pop’. I see things from a distance and I realize that he was teaching us. I coach high school basketball and now I do a lot of the things he did. We have moments to strengthen ties between the team, which is necessary if you want to achieve something. He always tried to determine what was the best possible solution for the players and instead made the players fit his solution.

– Do you think the NBA establishment has belittled European players? Because many commentators, coaches, players seem surprised with how they play, for example, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, or Nikola Jokic.

Those who are surprised by the European players may not know much about the game. The Spurs, for example, have been one of the most international teams in the NBA. They, along with the NBA, have seen what they can do in other countries and how to extract the best talent and put it on the floor. I think that many already have another perspective on what European players are like. In the United States we have athletes; there was a time when there were athletes who were also skilled. Now you have the Europeans who are very skilled and also understand how to play with space. I love it, because it should be so; we should be able to recognize that talent in various places. Is not a shock have an MVP from another country. That shows that the game has grown with Europeans now having more opportunity to come and play.

– Right now there is a Mexican team in the NBA G League, the Capitanes. Do you think Mexico City has what it takes for an NBA franchise in the future?

I think if there’s any chance for that to happen, Adam Silver will do his best to make it happen. You have to take into account logistics, travel, distance. It is the main topic when you talk about expansion. Is it possible for the community? For transfers? What kind of situation will they go through? There is an opportunity. I know the NBA will do their due diligence to make sure it’s something that can work for everyone involved.

– Does the interest in the NBA in Mexico surprise you?

No, because I live in San Antonio and I know the culture of the Mexicans. I know they love the Mavericks, or the Rockets. It’s ‘pure Spurs’! (laughs) Now, seriously, I’m not surprised, because that’s the game. There are a lot of people involved already. Why not bring in others like Eduardo Nájera and replicate the great things he accomplished as a Mexican player.

Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA.Isaac EsquivelEFE

– As LeBron’s career draws to a close, what do you think about the comparison that has always been made of him with Michael Jordan?

It is what always happens. We always compare someone to another. I remember (Julio César) Chávez, the great Mexican boxer, and now there’s the one with the red beard, I don’t remember his name… Canelo. Yes, there will always be someone to buy from. I grew up seeing what Michael Jordan was capable of achieving. I still competed against Jordan, when he already had his championship rings. LeBron is different. I give him his longevity and how he’s been able to take basketball and take it beyond saying ‘I don’t do this in the off-season.’ He stays in shape 24/7. He has a group around him that makes sure he is the best of all. That is a great investment. We have someone who invests in his body, because he understands that he needs that to continue competing at the highest level. Having the goal of being ‘the chosen one’, since high school… many times people can’t carry that weight. LeBron has been able to live with that and go beyond it.

– Who was the most difficult player you had to defend?

Michael Jordan, number 1. Kobe Bryant, too. Lebron James. Tracy McGrady. Vince Carter. At that time there were great players who did things that nobody had seen before. Every night he had his hands full. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Jordan.

– How would you defend Jokic?

I wouldn’t defend it (laughs). He is very intelligent. I know it sounds simple, but I would try to be in front of someone like him and not give him too many outings. If you side with him, he’ll take advantage of that. Always see double-teaming, so you have to anticipate that. I have not been able to figure out the team that has been able to defend it well; That shows the quality of teammates he has, because he is very good at releasing the ball. If it wasn’t, they would have better chances to defend it.

2023-06-10 01:24:18
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