Behold, the man my brother and I simply referred to as “Dirty Bruce”.
In fact, that expression has become a catch-all for us over the years, used to describe anything unjust or just plain low-down, as in “dude, did you drink my last beer? Man, that’s some Dirty bruce shit, right there”.
A ftting tribute to Bruce Bowen, hands down everyone’s choice for filthiest player of the last 10 years. The thing is, it’s not the kind of dirtiness we’ve covered in parts one & two: the clotheslining, flagrant-fouling, slap you in an elevator over gambling debts kind.
This is something more subtle. Nuanced, even.
Consider Bowen something of an artiste in this regard, and the bodies of the players he guarded over the years as his canvas. Sprained ankles, jammed thumbs, torn jerseys, all the product of Bowen’s unique brand of dirty kung-fu.
Of course, he was almost never ejected from games or even assessed flagrant fouls, unlike some of his thug brethren. Bowen’s go-to move was the old “run under a shooter so he comes down on your foot”, or the trusty “grab a player by his shirt after he goes by you”, both which commonly lead to injuries but almost never draw anything more serious than the standard foul call.
In fairness, Bowen was a self-made NBA player, one of the rare examples of a young man in his early 20’s being wise enough to figure out that defense and selflessness were the keys to NBA job security in a world where there were approximately 500 swingmen fighting for about 50 jobs. Fittingly, Pat Riley, mastermind of the Ultra-dirty 90’s Knicks, was the first NBA coach to give Bowen a real break, starting him at Small forward in 2001 after Bowen had kicked around the league for 4 years.
Of course, Greg Popovich and the Spurs came calling the following summer, and the rest is thug history. Asked to do two things well for the Spurs, shut down the opponent’s best scorer and hit wide open 3 pointers from the short corners, Bowen performed beyond expectations in both regards for the better part of 8 years before he got to slow to trip and grab the elite athlete’s of the NBA.
Rest assured, he is not missed.
With that said, let’s put all the biography nonsense to get down and to the good shit.
LIST #1: THE GUYS WHO PUBLICLY CALLED BOWEN A DIRTY PLAYER
Isiah Thomas: after Bowen low-bridged Knick Jamal Crawford, Thomas allegedly got mad enough to implore his players to break something on Bruce’s body, preferably a foot or his NECK.
Amar’e Stoudemire: Contends that DIRTY BRUCE attempted to intentionally hurt him by kicking him in the back.
Ray Allen- Got sick enough of Bowen’s shit that he ENDED THEIR FRIENDSHIP. I mean, what kind of friend kicks you in the back after the whistle has blown, anyway?
Vince Carter- claims Brucie intentionally hurt him TWICE with undercuts. once in 2004 and again the next year.
LIST #2 THE 3 GREATEST BRUCE BOWEN NICKNAMES
1) THE RASH
2) EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
3) DIRTY BRUCE
LIST #3: PARTY TIME WITH HOME-MADE DIRTY BRUCE YOUTUBE TRIBUTES
Rest assured, there are alot of these, so we’ll just pick the cream of the crop. Sort of inspired by the sheer volume of people who Bowen angered enough to spend hours crafting these videos.
If nothing else, you can say the dude left his mark.
Clip #1: Bruce Bowen=Dirty Player:
A wonderful collection of still photos, featuring Bruce at his dirtiest. Peep the karate kick from his Miami days.
Clip #2: Bruce Bowen-The Karate Kid:
That kick is just breathtaking.
Clip #3: Bruce Bowen- A maniac, psycho:
A thoroughly enjoyable video, sort of a greatest “hits”, if you will.
Quite the legacy, there.
Sadly, Db hung up his sneakers in 2009 to the dismay of, well, nobody.
Needless to say, he’ll never be forgotten by anyone he ever “defended”.
Long live Dirty Bruce.
John Hathwell can be reached at Jonnyhath1@yahoo.com