Having won three NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs, Bruce Bowen doesn’t attempt to hide his affinity for the organization.
The former defensive standout was critical of Kawhi Leonard’s dealings with the team last season, saying “there’s nothing but excuses going on.”
Bowen, speaking on XM NBA Radio, said “First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise, and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”
Leonard, a two-time first-team All-NBA performer, played in only nine games last season because of right quadriceps injury. Last week, his desire to depart San Antonio went public, with words being Leonard wants to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I think he’s getting bad advice,” Bowen said. “I think what you’re starting to see now is an individual given a certain amount of advice, and it’s not the right advice. Here it is: You were protected in San Antonio. You were able to come up during a time where you still could lean on Tim [Duncan], Tony [Parker] and Manu [Ginobili].”
Bowen was part of NBA championship teams in San Antonio in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Now a game analyst for Los Angeles Clippers broadcasts, he said Leonard has not been upfront about his issues with the Spurs.
“Not one time has Kawhi come out and said anything to the effect of, ‘You know what, hey, I really enjoy being in San Antonio.’ Or, ‘I can’t stand what’s going on here in San Antonio,’ ” Bowen said. “Not one time has he said anything.”
Bowen also condemned Leonard’s decision to rehab his injury in New York as opposed to doing so with the team, which was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by eventual NBA champion Golden State.
“As a player, if I’m a leader of a team, my team goes on the road in the playoffs, I’m with my guys,” he said. “Because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about camaraderie. It’s about fellowship. It’s a brotherhood. When that didn’t happen, it’s all kinds of sirens and alarm signals that says to me, ‘Is this person fully vested?’ … I don’t want to take on a player who’s not willing to support his guys during the course of their time needing him.”