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Playoffs Mailbox: Bruce Bowen

You watch the games, you see the scores, but how do you really know what's going on in the NBA Playoffs 2003? has infiltrated the action with the ultimate insiders -- the players themselves. We're giving you an exclusive look at the postseason with a roster of player mailboxes.

Bruce Bowen is one of the premier defenders in the NBA. Send Bruce an e-mail question and we'll get more of his answers to post during the postseason.

Bowen answered your third round of questions on Tuesday, May 13:

Bowen responds to your e-mail questions.
Q: Hey, Bruce! I want to know if you think that Kobe is the hardest player to defend on and if not, who's the best offensive player as far as you're concerned?
-- Vincent (Poitiers, France)

Bowen: I wouldnít tell who is the hardest player for me to guard because that would give them ammunition, but I donít think Kobe is the hardest player for me to guard. Heís a good player, but I donít think he is the hardest for me.

Q: Bruce, I am a diehard Lakers fan, but I have to give you much respect. You have done a great defensive job on Kobe. My question is how hard is it to check Kobe and what do you think you are doing defensively to disrupt his game?
-- Maurice (Birmingham, Ala.)

Bowen: Itís hard to disrupt a guyís game when he gets a lot of shots. So I try just to make each shot as difficult as possible and thatís about the only thing Iím doing. Trying to get a hand up on every shot and make sure he doesnít get anything easy.

Q: How hard is it to stay focused during the game? It seems sometimes you or a team member will tire out or maybe lose motivation.
-- Tim (Seguin, Texas)

Bowen: Weíre in the playoffs and there is no room for slippage at this point in time. You have to stay on guard and understand that at any given time a little slippage can cost you the game.

Q: Hey Bruce, Now that you are 2-2 with the Lakers, does this bring down your confidence to beat LA? How confident are you now in beating them two in a row?
-- Mhel (Manila, Philippines)

Bowen: Weíre still confident. This is why you work for home court advantage. We shouldíve won Game 3, we didnít play as well as we could have and we understand that. I think everybodyís eager to get back on the court and do the things correct so we can get a victory.

Q: Does the long first-round series affect the second round?
-- John (San Antonio)

Bowen: Not really. I donít think so. Itís just a lot less time off. Usually at the end of the first round you would have a little time off, but this is fine!

Bowen answered your second round of questions on Monday, May 5:

Q: Hey, Bruce! When it comes to outstanding backcourt defense and sheer determination, your on the top of the list. You have managed to even boost your 3-point percentage this season. Kinda reminds me of the late Malik Sealy's perseverance. Which of your coaches brought out the best of your abilities?
-- Christopher, (Manila, Phillipines)

Bowen: Coach Pop, Pat Riley, and Larry Brown.

Q: : I've read that you're taking a class at UTSA in San Antonio. How are you able to stay so focused on the court as well as your studies?
-- Angel (San Antonio)

Bowen: Basketball consumes a lot of my time, but itís also good to have a release, which has been school. Itís another learning situation. Itís not like Iím leaving the court and just partying. Iím leaving the court and doing something constructive to help my mind.

Q: Hello Mr. Bowen! I just want to ask you why your 3-pointers are the best in the league. Is there any special technique you use?
-- Ken (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Bowen: Just practice, practice, practice. I think that is the only way that you get better at anything in life is to continue to practice.

Q: Bruce! I always hear about you as a defensive player. What about your offense? I think that in a way you are very good offensive player but people see you like Ben Wallace as only great defensive player! Don't you think that this is a stereotype about your game?
-- Spikel (Kielce, Poland)

Bowen: Itís unfortunate that the NBA only focuses on the things that you do special. Iím a basketball player, but I just happen to guard a lot of the top offensive players pretty well. You canít worry about proving them wrong, you allow your play to prove them wrong. Thatís all I can worry about. I used to worry about, 'Oh, I got to show them that Iím this or I have to show them that Iím that.í Itís no longer that way. I just go out and play and people are going to say what they are going to say regardless.

Q: Hey, as an excellent defensive player, what aspect of the game do you think is most important for good 'D'? Is it speed, strength, court vision, energy or rebounding?
-- Sugiang (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Bowen: I think all of those things tie into it, but also desire. Thatís the main focus, desire. If you have the desire to go out and guard somebody, 9 times out of 10 you may be successful. But even if you donít guard them well at least you gave them 110% and you can always look back and say, 'Hey, I did the best I could.'

Bowen answered your first round of questions on Wednesday, April 23:

Q: As a defensive specialist, who do you feel is the most challenging player on the Suns to guard?
-- Will (Oxford, Miss.)

Bowen: I think the most talented (player) to guard would of course be Stephon Marbury, because he is the head of their team, the head of the snake so to speak. Because he represents so much of their offensive power, that would be the most difficult guy to guard on the Suns.

Q: Hey Bruce, I admire your defense. I've learned a lot by watching you play defense. What drills do you do to practice defense before a game? Also, do you also watch a player's mid-section to see where they go to next instead of their feet or arms? You're the best!
-- Ray (Los Angeles)

Bowen: I always focus on the mid-section because no one can go anywhere without the mid-section. So if you can focus there, that is the best place to focus. As for drills, there are really not a lot of drills that you can do to become the best defensive player. I think itís something inside that you just choose to do or you choose not to do.

Q: Hey Bruce! Congratulations on the Midwest Division title and having the best record in the NBA. I am a true blue Spurs fan even though I have moved from San Antonio to Houston. My question is, is this run for the ring especially significant because it's Big Dave's last season?
-- Spurschick (Houston)

Bowen: Anytime you get a chance to play for the ring it is very significant, but it would be icing on top of the cake for Dave to go out on the highest level he could go out. It would be wonderful to send him off on that level.

Q: I would love to see David go out a champion. Is there any way that your aggressiveness on defense rubs off on your teammates?
-- Danny (Gun Barrel City, Texas)

Bowen: I hope so! I hope they see me and they get a little inspired at times. I feel it does, so thatís why I am out there trying to bust my tail night in and night outÖso we can all get it going!

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