Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 1/24/12

Former NBA forward Bruce Bowen, known most for his time spent with the San Antonio Spurs, will have his No. 12 jersey retired by the team on March 21.

Aside from being known as the Spurs' defensive specialist, he had a reputation around the league for playing "dirty" and had ongoing wars with Celtics guard Ray Allen.

Bowen played for the Spurs from 2001-2009, picking up championship rings in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

“Bruce Bowen was the premier perimeter defender in the NBA for close to a decade,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “His success is proof that hard work and determination do, in fact, pay off. Statistics are meaningless when talking about his importance to this franchise. The simple fact is the Spurs don't win NBA Championships in 2003, 2005 and 2007 without Bruce Bowen.”

Outside of San Antonio, there seems to be a bit of a debate about whether Bowen deserves this honor.  But inside San Antonio, his impact on the team's success is obvious.

How irreplaceable was Bowen to the Spurs’ last three title runs? Just ask Duncan.

“We’ve been trying to replace him ever since,” Duncan said.

Before landing in San Antonio, the Cal State-Fullerton alumnus also played with Miami, Boston and Philadelphia.

In a ceremony during the March 21 Spurs home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bowen's jersey will join those worn by former Spurs greats, including David Robinson and George Gervin.

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