LeBron James may be making a run for the ‘greatest player of all-time’ title, but former San Antonio Spur forward Bruce Bowen still ranks him at third in a list of five hardest players to cover in the league.
The three-time NBA champion is in the country for a couple of NBA Finals viewing parties set by Solar, with the second one coming on June 4 at the Buffallo Wild Wings in Glorietta.
He’s on good authority to speak about defense, of course. He was named to the All-Defensive First Team five times in his career and was often the designated guy to tag the best perimeter opponents in Gregg Popovich’s squads.
Bowen went up against a young James in the 2007 Finals series, where his team swept the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers. There, he held him to 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 5.7 turnovers on 35.6 percent shooting from the field and 20.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
And although he acknowledges the high level of play that ‘The King’ is displaying right now, he still placed two of the best shooting guards in history above him.
He rolled out Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant first without missing a beat. The two may have been expected answers; Bowen faced Jordan during the tail end of the latter’s career and played him as an undrafted rookie at the Miami Heat in 1997. He then had to cover him when ‘His Airness’ returned to the NBA with the Washington Wizards back in 2001 and 2002.
Kobe, on the other hand, saw Bowen put a hand in his face a ton of times in the 2000s. They faced each other in Lakers-Spurs matchups often and was often a thorn on Bryant’s side until 2009, when Bowen retired.
Names four and five surprised a few media men in attendance.
“Number four is Michael Redd, and number five… I think I’d go with Tracy McGrady,” he said.
Redd may be an unfamiliar choice for some, but the former Olympian was bonkers on offense during his prime years. In his All-Star year, he normed 21.7 points and 5.0 rebounds and played in all 82 games. His best year came in the 2006-07 season, where he averaged 26.7 points and became the second player to score 50 in a game by setting a franchise-record 57.
ACL and MCL injuries, however, hastened his downfall.
McGrady, on the other hand, was a handful for Bowen and the Spurs during the former’s years with the Houston Rockets. The versatile forward was even Bruce’s primary assignment in T-Mac’s famed ‘13 points in 33 seconds’ game.