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March 29, 2006



"The guy's a hack player who benefits from the refs allowing him to grab, hold, foul and constantly complain."

I'm wondering what separates Bowen from other players who do the same thing. Take Kobe, for instance. He didn't kick anyone, but he gave Mike Miller a cheap shot to the throat this season, then publically proclaimed that he was right to do so. He also gets benefit of the doubt from refs, who allow him to clutch, hold, grab, and then ceaselessly complain when calls don't go his way.

Jordan did the same thing. He was lauded as one of the greatest defensive players of all time, yet go back and watch the footage. He grabbed, hit, and elbowed people as much as anyone. I have an old Bulls/Warriors game on tape were Jordan whacks Chris Mullin three times on the arm, and I mean hard. When the ball finally popped out, the announcer exclaimed, "What a great defensive play by Jordan!"

Even my man Karl Malone was known to throw a dangerous elbow. He knocked people out and even forced them to get plastic surgery.

I think the difference between these players and a Bruce Bowen is that the only thing he does is play defense (well, other than the occassional three-pointer). The other guys did or do things to distract you, scoring points, grabbing rebounds, what have you. So you can focus more on the fun aspects of the game. Since Bowen can't score 30 points, or take over a game, his defense -- and the physical antics involved -- get put under the microscope.

Plus, since players like Ray Allen (who, make no mistake, does his share of elbow throwing and arm smacking) have gone out of their way to draw attention to what Bowen does, everybody's looking for it. And when it happens, as it must, the outrage is quick to flow.

If Bowen could go out and drop 50 on someone over the weekend, I promise you people would forget. But he can't, and so they won't.

Earlier this season, I was watching a Bulls/Pistons game, and Chauncy Billups stepped on Chris Duhon. He did it on purpose to. Later, Rasheed Wallace kick Kirk Heinrich during a loose ball scrum. Again, on purpose. But I didn't read anything about those things the next day.

Speaking of the Bulls, earlier this season Dirk Nowitzki knocked out one of Loul Deng's teeth and then gave Kirk Heinrich a concussion...in the same game! And have you ever noticed how Dirk likes to swing his elbows at his defender's head to get free for a jumper? But he's one of the league's leading scorers. He can't be dirty, can he?

I'm not trying to dispute what Bowen does. Does he ::always:: play dirty? No. Does he do it when he thinks he can get away with it? Yes. Do the refs look the other way because he's known as a defensive specialist on one of the league's best teams? Absolutely. However, I don't think Bowen's behavior is that different from some of our past and present superstars. I just think it gets more press because that's his entire game.


Nice post Basketbawful, I had to print it out to go through the list of responses.

First off, I agree a lot of NBA greats got away with questionable antics on D. Malone dropped some serious bows up until his last season (he got suspended for one on Nash in the ’04 season). As I documented, Kobe went through this phase earlier in the season where he was dropping major elbows/cheap shots in 4 of 5 games. I thought it was stupid and it cost the Lakers 3 games (2 for suspension, 1 because it helped rally Memphis). Kobe was buying into his own “Mamba” persona too much. BTW - he stopped drawing tech’s because he’s coming close to the league limit, which mandates a suspension.

Anyway, the thing that grates me about Bowen is the fact the he truly believes that he commits ZERO fouls a game.

Let me take this a step further. We all know that major star players get the benefit of the calls from refs. (One that I can’t stand is the LeBron crossover dribble drive down the lane. It’s a blatant carry/traveling call, but the refs let it slide) The refs also grant the top teams some leeway. The Lakers got away with some stuff in the early 2000’s, as did Bulls and the Bad Boy Pistons in the 90's. I still go back to the Ewing traveling hook shot. His move never changed over the years, just the refs started calling him for traveling as soon as the Knicks (and later the Sonics and Magic) were no longer title threats.

I have no problem that the refs let a lot of Bowen’s defensive fouls slide. A lot of this is because the Spurs (and the Pistons) are a title contender. Yet, for the 1 out of 4 times that the refs may call a foul, there goes Bowen bitching to the nearest ref about the call. It’s as though he’s shocked that he actually committed a foul. Just wait; as soon as the Spurs are no longer a contending team, you’ll see Bowen foul out of more games.

During the highly underrated Spurs-Lakers rivalry from 1999 to 2004, I saw a lot of Bruce Bowen. I know that Rick Fox pulled a lot of the shit that Bowen pulls today; it’s just that once Fox was whistled for a foul, he’d give the “that’s not a foul smile” and raised his hand up and took the call. Whereas, I see Bowen following the ref all over the court with his arms out begging like the homeless guy that lives down my street.


I agree Bowen argues too much. But to be fair, I'm not sure he argues any more than Kobe, the Pistons' starting five, etc. It seems to aggravate people more when Bowen does it because "all" he does is play D (and argue calls).

Personally, I think things have gotten out of hand, not just with Bruce Bowen, but in general. Did you see the Purdue women's basketball team get bounced out of the NCAA tournament last weekend? North Carolina's point guard flopped incessantly in that game. I taped the game, and I actually took the time to go back and count. Seventeen times she flopped while playing "defense." She didn't go down every time, but she always jumped backwards like she was shot and wheeled her arms wildly through the air. She only got four calls out of those 17 flops, but they were critical.

This stuff trickles down. You know, I've played pickup ball for 17 years. You almost never, ever see a flop in pickup ball. You know why? Because no one calls offensive fouls, so it won't help you. In fact, you'll probably give up an easy score.

I'd like to see the NBA adopt a policy where players are assessed a technical foul every time they flop, argue, scream, or otherwise overact on the court. I guarantee that would put a stop to a lot of this crap.

I agree with you on the Ewing move. It was always dribble, take 3 to 4 steps across the lane, shoot. Every time. Most superstars have that "signature move" that's technically illegal but never gets called. Iverson's crossover, for instance. Jordan would always dribble with his right hand and either push off or give a hard elbow with his left arm to get open, particularly during the Bulls' last three titles and his stint in Washington. And even my beloved Reggie Miller used to come around a pick, catch the ball, take two or three steps without a dribble, and then shoot. It hurt to say that. Seriously. Physical pain.

I'm thinking we should co-author an article, like the Top 10 Illegal Moves That Never Got Called.


"I'd like to see the NBA adopt a policy where players are assessed a technical foul every time they flop..."

I agree completely. In soccer (futbol) they give yellow cards for excessive diving. And this is for a sport notorious for theatrics.

It kills me to see that refs reward the flopping. And it's even more disturbing that it's trickling down to the college game. This may be a stretch, but my theory is that the flopping in the NBA increased as more foreign players joined the league. I watch a fair share of European soccer and there's a science to drawing penalties. It's truly part of their game. As long as it's not too obvious, it's embraced.

Anyway, on the illegal move thing, I like your idea about the top 10. My question to you is, as you've watched a good amount of Basketball Jesus, what was his signature illegal move. I don't recall one, I just think Bird had the fundamental basics down and it wasn't in him for that. But what do you think?


wow, sounds like a lot of bitching from a guy who complains the SPurs bitch too much. Kobe, D Wade, several great players have said Bown isn't dirty and that he plays great defense. Those guys sound like men willing to admit that Bowen does well on them on defense, while Ray Allen still bitches because Bowen punks him every time the two teams meet. As a Spurs hater, I understand your hate for Bowen and a team who has been so dominant in the NBA during this decade so far, no matter how entertaining or boring they are, they get the job done. If you want a show, go to Vegas.

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"I'd like to see the NBA adopt a policy where players are assessed a technical foul every time they flop..."


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