Sunday media: More Q&A with Bowen on his days at ESPN, and revelations from playing at Fullerton

Illustration by Jim Thompson

In addition to Sunday’s media column on the Clippers’ hiring of Bruce Bowen as a new TV analyst for Prime Ticket, we got into these topics with the former San Antonio Spurs guard:

Q: What was the ESPN experience like primarily as a studio analyst? What did you learn from that?
A: Wow, how much time do you have? I always understood why some (ex-player) had issues with studio work. Sometimes when it comes to TV, it’s about the sensationalizing of a situation at the moment. The headlines can move different. Instead of talking about a player, even thought he had just scored 40 points, the question would be: ‘What did think of him dancing after the game?’ Certain things can be blown up into stories instead of having us talk about the game in different ways. ESPN was great opporunity, but it was also a chance to see other people do their job in a professional manner that I never quite saw before — like a radio guy, by himself, talking for five hours. That takes talent. I got to see people in their element.
Of all the different things I worked on — ‘NBA Tonight,’ ‘SportsCenter,’ ‘Mike & Mike,’ I really enjoyed the time with Bob Ley on ‘Outside The Lines,’ which was very thought provoking and geared toward situations like, Is it proper to visit the White House after a championship? I know it’s been blown out of proportion now a days, but I was still a question they asked a year and a half ago, and my experiences were always fantastic, to visit a place that not many get the opportunity to see.

Q: The link you have to Cal State Fullerton … what was your takeaway from that?

A: Fullerton wasn’t a powerhouse at that time, and that’s where I learned decisions you make aren’t always the best when it comes to basketball. Basketball isn’t fun all the time. We underachieved then, and we had a lot of guys who I think … there was a lack of communication with exactly what kind of team we wanted to be. Playing with Cedric Ceballos — you knew he would be playing at the next level — but I wish our team had played more of a team-style because all the opponents knew what Cedric could do, but we also had a lot of Pac-10 transfers who thought, ‘I’m going to shine now’ and didn’t necessarily all buy into playing as a team. As the school has changed leadership I see more team play from Dedrique Taylor. He gets it.

Q: Did the media covering you in the NBA falsely label you as a ‘dirty player,’ and how did you live with that?
A: (Laughing) You learn through sports, there are things can’t control when someone writes an opinion. You just do your best. I learned things at different stages. In college, one time we were playing UCLA, and I had a quote where I said I thought they were overrated. That individual led his story with that comment, and (Titans coach) Brad Holland said, ‘You can’t say that kind of stuff.’ I wasn’t trying to take anything away from UCLA. It was just my opinion. You learn quickly I don’t blame the media for anything even with the ‘dirty player’ stuff, I just wish they paid attention to more things.

Q: Did getting a role in the media change your attitude about how the media operates and how you don’t want to be misinterpreted?
A: Not necessarily. I stand by what I say. Don’t think you have to tear down players. If Kobe Bryant goes off for 42 points on game, and the next game he’s 3-for-20 shooting and you hear someone say, ‘That’s a terrible shot,’ I don’t think that’s fair to say when you were praising him for taking that same shot in the previous game. ‘Now his shot isn’t falling and he needs to attack the basket and get to the free-throw line and get back on track’ is what you can say instead.

Q: Do you watch and admire any analyst in particular?
A: Steve Kerr was someone I liked (before he went on to become the head coach of the Golden State Warriors). It’s funny how you’re teammates with someone and you can keep exchanging texts and things — he’s a guy for me to emulate. Cris Collinsworth is someone I really like. Same with Troy Aikman — maybe I’m partial to a Cowboys guy because I’m a Cowboys fan and I enjoyed watching him. It’s going back to being critical without tearing guys down. I’m very much aware of that as a player and knowing how people can say negative things that doesn’t necessarily feel good or your family hears it. I am very cognizant about how I describe things.

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