by Ryne Nelson

Give Bruce Bowen credit for getting it right. Somehow, someway, Bruce Bowen managed to capture every basketball fan’s attention despite entering the League as an undrafted swingman with less offensive game than Cookie Monster (and that’s no disrespect to the furry dude).

Bowen won three titles. He played in 500 consecutive games. He earned eight straight All-Defensive First and Second Team nominations. DPOY runner-up twice. But, most of all, we watched the Spurs because of him.

Yeah, we watched to see Ginobili breaking ankles (and his own included), Tony Parker slicing through the lane like a knife through aged brie, and that dude called Tim kissing the glass. But Bruce Bowen was the reason we paid close attention. He was the reason many hated (and loved) the Spurs. Bruce Bowen, in many people’s eyes, embodied the hard-working, stop at nothing, come outta nowhere success story that the Spurs executed so well.

Now the 38-year-old is calling it a career. From the San Antonio Express-News:

Bruce Bowen has known for some time that this day would come. And now that it’s here, he’s feeling surprisingly calm about it. The former Spurs great is retiring from the NBA.

“I’m very happy,” Bowen, 38, said this morning. “It hasn’t been difficult. I was content about it and understood it was going to happen.”

The Spurs still think they have what it takes to get another title, and, frankly, you can’t count them out as long as Duncan’s in-uniform and Gregg P is on the bench. But, without their Iron Man on defense, it’s going to be more of a struggle. Bowen’s been on the decline for the past couple years, and, despite solid playoff runs, the Spurs haven’t been able to claim the ultimate prize.

Some may have hated Bowen’s game, but all can appreciate his accomplishments — not only as a player, but for the Spurs organization and the San Antonio community. When we remember the Spurs dynasty, we’ll not only think about the Big Three, but also about Bruce B (sorry, but I had to claim the rhyme). And for everything he’s accomplished while in the silver and black, Bruce’s jersey deserves a spot among the AT&T Center rafters.