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Former Spurs forward Bowen retires from professional game

FORMER San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen, long regarded as one of the best and most tenacious defenders in the league, retired from professional basketball yesterday.

The 38-year-old, who won NBA championships with the Spurs in 2003, 2005 and 2007, announced his decision during a news conference in San Antonio.

"It's a joyous occasion for me to be able to have played this long in the NBA," said Bowen after completing 12 full seasons in the league. "I'm no spring chicken. I'm more like a rooster now.

"I could still compete at a high level but there is always the end of the road.

"I have been thinking about this over the past five years and each year it put more thought in my head that maybe the time is nearing.

"I always wanted to leave on my own terms and I've been fortunate enough to be able to do that now."

Bowen, who was selected eight times for the NBA's all-defensive team, felt his widespread reputation for being a dirty player was unfair though he regretted one incident -- kicking Seattle's Ray Allen in the back in March 2006.

He was fined US$10,000 by the NBA.

"That play I remember and I regret because of me intentionally doing that," Bowen said.

"I shouldn't have done that.

"A lot of the other things it just so happened that I was there after everybody stuck their hands in the cookie jar and then the lights came on and I had a cookie.

"People are entitled to their own opinions and I've been fighting that for quite some time here. If anything, what people remember me for now is that I have three championships."

Bowen averaged 6.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in a career with the Spurs, the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers.

He was traded to Milwaukee in June for high-scoring forward Richard Jefferson in a multi-player, three-team exchange but was later waived by the Bucks.


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