Larry Brown Sports- Bowen granted the San Antonio Spurs permission to un-retire his No. 12 jersey so that new free agent acquisition LaMarcus Aldridge could wear it.
“You want LaMarcus to feel part of the family,” Bowen told the San Antonio Express-News. “If I can have a hand in that, shoot, why not? I don’t play anymore.”
Bowen’s jersey was retired three years ago by the organization to honor his outstanding play with the team. A defensive stalwart, Bowen helped the Spurs win three championships and was named first-team All-NBA defense five times.
“I hope it helps (Aldridge) feel comfortable,” Bowen said. “If he’s comfortable, the sky’s the limit for him here. It’s one less thing he has to worry about.”
You want to know why David West took the veteran minimum to play in San Antonio? Yeah, it had a lot to do with putting himself in a position to win a championship, but it's more than that. It was a chance to be a part of something special. A chance to be a part of a team that prides itself on giving up their own personal accolades for the greater good of the team. The NBA is a league where players are primarily interested in what is good for them individually. Whether that be who the head coach is, who their teammates are, how much they are getting paid in comparison to someone else, or something as trivial as jersey numbers; NBA players tend to be very volatile when it comes to their own personal interests. It is refreshing to see a selfless team that is built the right way from the ground up have such a successful pedigree.
Nothing embraces that notion more than a retired player deciding to un-retire his jersey number for a player he has little, to no, connection with. Yeah, it's just a jersey number, but it's also a historical honor bestowed upon very few. An honor that Bowen sacrificed for the betterment of a team he hasn't played on in years. That just doesn't happen very often in professional sports. There was no controversy. No money changed hands. Just one player extending an offer to, at this point, a less deserving player just to help him feel the same way about the Spurs as Bowen does. To think of the franchise as a family. As a team. A team that functions better as a whole then as a sum of it's parts. It's almost not fair to the rest of the league how much of a brotherhood the San Antonio brand has become. While superstars around the league are burning bridges just to construct their own teams like it's 'NBA Live'. Bruce Bowen is metaphorically giving up his place in Spurs history, at least temporarily, to help the franchise that made his career as successful as it was. That's a sense of loyalty and self awareness that is increasingly lacking around all of professional sports.