SAN ANTONIO – Below is a Q&A with an interview with former San Antonio Spurs forward and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen on defending Kobe Bryant during countless Spurs-Lakers regular-season and playoff matchups. While Bryant averaged 28.6 points on 46.8 percent shooting against Bowen in 22 playoff games, Bowen held Bryant to 26.3 points per game average on a 42.6 percent clip through 32 regular-season contests.
What memories jump out to you in defending Kobe Bryant?
Bowen: “I think obviously he’s one of the best players at that position besides MJ [Michael Jordan]. The biggest thing for me, I knew Kobe was a due diligent person. His basketball IQ surpassed some of the others I competed against. The most critical aspect of Kobe’s game for me was his mental focus. It was comparable to mine about not allowing things to get to the point where you lose focus off of what’s at hand. I can tell you different guys at different moments where they lost focus. For the most part, he understood how important that focus was. Because of that, it wasn’t about the physical aspect. It was about the mental aspect as well. It was a chess game.
What moves are going to be made if this happens? If he didn’t start off well, I knew he was going to drive the ball. I knew he wanted to get comfortable shots in comfortable spots. That’s where it may be happening where you have to work harder. In the process of me trying to work harder, that’s where everything kind of seems to build up even more so as far as ‘Okay he’s not doing so well. I know at any moment he’s going to go off. All he needs is a layup.’ I always said that. It bothered me when Pop [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] took me out of the game and then I would see him get a layup. My thoughts are ‘I’m not going to shut him out, but at least let’s keep it going where he might question things to the point to where now I have an opportunity.'”