There was a little bit of a dust-up recently, a bit of a spat between two of the NBA’s top teams, the San Antonio Spurs and the New York Knickeldickels after Isiah Thomas said some mean-spirited things in the general vacinity of one of the Spurs players, which is a pretty big deal. See, a coach addressing a player on an opponent’s roster is generally a no-no. It’s sort of like getting scolded by a friend’s parent when you were little for doing something that was totally ok at your house but not at their’s. Basically, a head coach takes care of their own team and keeps out of the other team’s bidness. So when Isiah Thomas, that peanut of a brain behind the worst-run franchise in the NBA, threatens to break a Spurs player’s neck (maybe he just said foot) amidst a profanity-laden tirade, you know some nasty stuff is probably going down.
The object of Thomas’ fury was of course none other than one of the dirtiest players currently playing the game, Bruce Bowen. Many know Bowen as a perenial All-Defense player who, despite having marginally more talent than your average Greg Buckner, manages to get tons of credit just because he’s played next to one of the best power forwards of all time for almost his entie career (and won some rings in the process). I’m convinced– Bowen has constructed the perfect NBA career. His quiet, workingman’s demeanor has earned him a good guy rep around the league, aided by his penchant for being a total fucking pest on the denfensive end and of course his incredible fortune to have spent the past six seasons in a starting lineup with Tim Duncan. The man was even invited to play for USA Basketball this past spring (nevermind that he was cut from the team by the end of the summer). Under that slick, bald veneer, however, lies a dirty, dirty cheater.
Back to the matters at hand: Isiah Thomas got all in a huff at Bowen because during a recent game, he alledges that Bowen slid his foot underneath Steve Francis while Franchise went up for a jump shot in an effort to take Stevie’s mind off his shot and affect his shot motion. The result? Francis went up for the shot like normal and when gravity acted upon that overhyped, over-the-hill little tweener of a player, causing him to bring all 191 pounds of his tiny frame down on an awkwardly-angled ankle which fell on top of Bowen’s foot, the ankle suffered a sprain and all of a sudden the Knicks are Franchise-less for the next three games (which Isiah Thomas somehow interprets as an actual threat to the Knicks’ chances for success– I know, crazy, right?). Regardless of Francis’ actual worth, when a player suffers a relatively needless injury, it is completely understandable that their head coach feels the need to stand up for them. So when Isiah Thomas thought Bruce Bowen attempted the same foot slide crap as Jamal Crawford went up for a shot in a rematch between the two teams a couple days later, the once-NBA legend went ballistic.
Now, I’m no Isiah Thomas backer. I mean frankly, the man bankrupted the CBA before embarking on two completely inept stints as a GM and coach with the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers, respectively– not to mention the current pathetic state of the Knicks. In short, the man’s just an idiot. But in this case, he helps illuminate a very valuable point: Bruce Bowen is a dirty, dirty cheater.
Nevermind the fact that some of the NBA’s best players, such as Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, and Vince Carter, have made similar accusations in the past. You can even forget the fact that Bowen considers kumite a useful and legal tactic in guarding certain ex-Twolves players. What can’t be ignored is the call Bowen recently got from Stu Jackson, the NBA’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations (aka the rule police) in which Big Stu asked Bowen to watch yo-self in the future. Yep, that’s right, Bruce Bowen: you’re officially on notice. Now besides Rasheed Wallace, how many NBA players can claim they’ve got Stu Stu on their cell phone’s call log? I mean, how many of the NBA’s “good guys” even receive warnings like this? For anything they do on the court? (Off court activities are exempt from this particular discussion.) How many players have elicited comments such as this from other head coaches in reference to their on-court defensive tactics:
Of course, if you still have any doubt about Bowen by this point, you can just watch the clip for yourself.