Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs is known for three things.
He is known as one of the premier shutdown defenders in the NBA, a deadly three-point shooter, and, most infamously, as the dirtiest player in the league.
Last night in the fourth quarter of a game versus the Phoenix Suns, Bowen let his frustration get the best of him and proceeded to give Suns center Amare Stoudemire a forearm shiver to the chest.
A video of the event can be found here: http://youtube.com/watch?v=2gQYpdOjjQA
After a couple seconds in which Stoudemire was able to gather himself, he came up looking for blood. Luckily, the Suns knew that if Stoudemire were to retaliate, he would be harshly reprimanded by the league offices.
Bowen got off with a simple personal foul.
Stoudemire could later be heard in the locker room proclaiming that Bowen has a "glass jaw" after watching replays of the incident.
Bowen is the embodiment of exactly what is wrong with the NBA.
It is not like he has been a choir boy during his NBA career. In fact, earlier this year he was suspended one game for kicking New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul.
He is also known for purposely sticking his foot under jump shooters with the intention of rolling their ankles. Oh, and don't forget the time he jump kicked a player in the face.
Despite all of this, NBA Commissioner David Stern continues to let Bowen off with nothing more than slaps on the wrist.
Bowen is a master of these "dirty" plays. He does them discreetly so that nobody will notice unless they see a replay, and are looking explicitly for what he did.
His ability to attack unnoticed by the referees means that if he is ever retaliated against, his victim will be the player to be reprimanded.
David Stern needs to act now before Bowen opens a can of worms.
We all remember how last year’s Western Conference Semifinals were decided by the Phoenix Suns reacting to a cheap shot from a member of the San Antonio Spurs. If Stern does not take matters into his own hands, one of two events is certain to happen:
1. Bowen enacts one of his cheap shots and seriously hurts somebody. Stern is then faced with questions of why he did not stop Bowen when he could have.
2. Bowen enacts one of his cheap shots, and then is seriously hurt when the player attacks him viciously. See Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich.
Stern again is faced with questions of why he did not stop Bowen when he could have.
In both of these scenarios, the league's public image takes a hit. Much of the general public already views the NBA as a league full of thugs and gang bangers. If that stereotype is then perpetuated, the NBA will feel a financial crunch as advertisers do not wish to be associated with such a group of people.
The 2007-08 NBA season has been the greatest season in recent memory. As a fan of the sport, the last thing I want is the memory of this season tarnished by Stern's lack of initiative in stopping Bowen when he had the chance.
Please, Mr. Stern, please let me remember this season for all the amazing games I've seen, and not the chaos caused by a rogue player.