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Spurs to retire Bruce Bowen’s No. 12 jersey

Bruce Bowen

Bruce Bowen was the guy asked to cover Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson — whoever was the best perimeter player on the other team. Night after night, playoffs after playoffs.

His elite defense, as well as his reliable corner three, were key parts of three San Antonio Spurs titles, so the team is going to retire his jersey next month, San Antonio announced Monday.

“Bruce Bowen was the premier perimeter defender in the NBA for close to a decade,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in a released statement. “His success is proof that hard work and determination do, in fact, pay off. Statistics are meaningless when talking about his importance to this franchise. The simple fact is the Spurs don’t win NBA Championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007 without Bruce Bowen.”

Retiring his number is just very Spurs — a guy who was all about team, sacrifice, being the right part of the puzzle and doing his job well. The Spurs have never just been about Tim Duncan and David Robinson (although the Admiral already has his number retired and you can be sure Duncan will someday), they have been about the players and system that go around their stars. Bowen exemplifies that.

The Spurs other retired numbers? Johnny Moore (00), Avery Johnson (6), James Silas (13), Sean Elliot (32), George Gervin (44), and David Robinson (50).