With all eyes on the All England Club for the prestigious Wimbledon tennis tournament, three-time NBA Champion Bruce Bowen has served up his verdict on who’s going to win the grand slam. The former San Antonio Spurs ace is backing Andy Murray to go all the way in this year’s tournament, after watching the world number one open his title defence with a 3-0 win against Alexander Bublik on Centre Court on Monday. Murray faces German big hitter Dustin Brown in the second round of the competition which is due to commence later on today.

Speaking about who he thinks will lift the trophy, self-proclaimed tennis fan Bowen said: “Why wouldn’t I go for Murray right now? He’s number one in the world, he’s here, it’s blasphemous not to. I really enjoy the sport, It’s not just one particular individual I like but what Nadal has been able to do, his aggressiveness especially on clay and then to be able to win a championship here (Wimbledon). Federer obviously, he’s just so smooth, so graceful. If you’re going to build a tennis player you would say Federer right? But then Djokovic he’s a different individual, he has a lot of fun with the game, you see on Twitter him dancing after matches that he’s won. It’s the evolution of the game you have so many different components when it comes to this game. I think it only shows that it’s so much fun. I’m amazed at how they’re able to return a serve because you talk about hand eye coordination and reaction, a serve that comes at you at 90mph or 100mph and you return it? Oh goodness, those are the things that I appreciate from another sport’s perspective.”

Bowen also spoke about what Murray has to contend with in order to win Wimbledon: “I think for Murray to be able to do it here (Wimbledon), he grew up here, he knows the history here. I think there’s a plus and a minus with that. It’s the fact that yes you’re playing in front of so many fans, friends, family members. But that pressure when you make a mistake and how you analyse things. That’s the negative part I think. Sometimes all that that pressure of being at home can get to you in a certain kind of way but he has the whole country behind him and what a special place to be number one.”

On being a fan of Wimbledon…

“How can you not be a Wimbledon fan? I mean it’s worldwide and the greats of the game that have graced that court. I’m from the era of Sampras, I didn’t think anyone would ever outdo Pete Sampras and to see Roger Federer come along then it was like ‘woah’. Sampras didn’t give you too much emotion, he was the Tim Duncan of tennis. No emotions. Then you see these others come along, Nadal, Djokovic and now Murray. I think for Murray to be able to do it here (Wimbledon), he grew up here, he knows the history here. I think there’s a plus and a minus with that. It’s the fact that yes you’re playing in front of so many fans, friends, family members. But that pressure when you make a mistake and how you analyse things. That’s the negative part I think. Sometimes all that that pressure of being at home can get to you in a certain kind of way but he has the whole country behind him and what a special place to be number one.”

On whether he watches or plays tennis…

“I watch it a lot. I was with an individual yesterday who handles the trophy and he sees all the different things that transpire amongst the winners and losers. He said even the winners are very humble and gracious because they understand they too could be on that other side just like that. I find it interesting that the players share a locker room as they get ready for the match, the close proximity and the friendliness that they show. You would think that their guards would be up but it’s not quite that way and those are the kind of little things I’m intrigued by because I know as a competitor, for me, I didn’t want to make you feel comfortable around me, I wanted you uncomfortable. So I would do things that would make you feel uncomfortable. I remember one time Vince Carter was like ‘oh man good shot’ and I just looked at him. And he looks at Tim Duncan like ‘did he hear me?’ But that was the way that I kept the edge because I didn’t want him comfortable. Once guys get comfortable now they get back into the mode of operation. But it’s difference in tennis because they can be friendly, friendly, friendly and once that ball goes up for them to serve it’s over with, now it’s competition.”

On defending Russell Westbrook…

“It’s hard to limit the guy from one thing in the game because he has three things he can impact the game with. So it comes down to what do you want to take away? Do you want him to score a lot? Do you want to take away his opportunity for assists? Or do you want to box out, take away his opportunity to keep his possession alive with rebound? So I think it takes a guy with tremendous endurance to try to match his energy. I would’ve enjoyed the process of possibly trying to limit his ability but I can’t say that right now, but I would’ve tried to take away some of his strengths and I think attacking the basket is the biggest one for me with him. Once he starts getting into the paint… now he’s creating attention, whether he gets fouled and he gets to the free-throw line, which you don’t want him to do. Or he’s getting lay-ups, you don’t want to get lay-ups, if anything make sure he’s shooting jump shots each and every time where you can contest the shot.”

On the Golden State Warriors being one of the greatest NBA teams of all time…

“I don’t think it’s a situation where you can necessarily say right now. We’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of great teams in our game. First of all thinking about the ‘80s, with the dynasty of the Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Then you have the Lakers again in the early 2000s, when they go back-to-back-to-back championships. So yes it is something that is not often seen and as soon as they see it people say ‘this is the greatest team in history’. You know what, there’s always gonna be something better behind you, so I’m not so quick to say that this is the best team. It’s a different day and age in the game of basketball and that’s no disrespect to them. It’s just different. It’s not a scenario where it was before. So they very talented offensively but defensively, they played a different style of basketball. I can’t necessarily say that they’re a dynasty just yet. Maybe 10 years from now we can look back and say they are. They were very fortunate and you have to be during the course of the Playoffs. They played two teams that weren’t at full strength, so you have them against Portland and after Portland it was Utah and they were very fortunate and this is what happens in the game of basketball. I remember it was 2007 for us or six, where Dallas seemed to have our number that year. I think they won three out of four games against us but Dallas loses to Golden State in the First Round. That was fortunate for us because our championship game, per say, was against the Phoenix Suns. So for us, had we won against Phoenix, we then wouldn’t know what was going to happen against Dallas but we ended up playing Utah and Utah weren’t as much of a challenge as Dallas would have been. So you just never know how the chips may fall. Fortunate things happen, unfortunate things happen. Kawhi Leonard goes down so you’re not at 100%. Tony Parker goes down, not at 100%.

“So Kevin Durant gets hurt in the regular season and you can hear the collect gasp from the Bay Area ‘Oh what happens with us now!’. You could see they were in disarray during that time. So you have to be fortunate. At the same time I think it’s a credit to them for being able to come together more or less and for those that were already there to accept Kevin wasn’t hard. You’re talking about a former MVP, a former scoring champion. You’d hear these interviews ‘how do you think they’re gonna blend?’, they’re gonna blend trust me because they understand that with him, it allows Steph to be free. Steph turned the ball over late in that game two years ago in the Finals. Part of the reason why they were able to get Kevin Durant was because Kevin saw something there as well as the organisation knowing that they didn’t have someone there that could take the pressure off Steph. We’re talking about a two time MVP who had two years in a row of bad Finals. So Kevin Durant arrives and suddenly it’s ‘look at Steph Curry knocking down those threes…amazing!’ It’s not amazing it just means that now they have someone to take the pressure off him.”

On the Spurs still being contenders…

“You can never count them out. But at the same time, there’s an influx of youth that’s necessary for the San Antonio Spurs and the game changes every few years. When I was there, we had a very good defensive team, then you see the defensive numbers slip and the offensive numbers go up because of the way the game is. So I think if San Antonio can get back to the way they used to be defensively, as well as creating the offense they do, they have a great opportunity. Now, an opportunity is all you want but you’ve also got to take into account they have a tough road ahead of them. They have point guard issues, Dejounte Murray or the rookie from Colorado coming in. How are they going to manage that time at the point guard because Tony Parker won’t be back until maybe January or February. And you’ll want him to take it slow so you can get the best out of him, especially as he’s an older player.

“Kawhi, you expect him to come back bigger and better, understanding how the focus is around him but where is that other help going to come from. Will LaMarcus Aldridge step up and be that player that we have grown accustomed to seeing in Portland? He had an opportunity to show this through the course of the Playoffs but for whatever reason, it wasn’t there. The situation with Pau Gasol, will he come back or not? All of these different things are going on with the San Antonio Spurs but there’s a group that I know is doing their due diligence. It is up to the Spurs organization who usually do the digging to find a jewel amongst all of the coal.”

On the shock moves in Free Agency…

“For me the CP3 situation has surprised me and I say it from this standpoint, how effective will James Harden be now? James had the ball in his hand a lot of the time during the course of the season and we talk about him having an amazing season but at the same time, he’s not a Point Guard. Now you have Chris Paul as a Point Guard and he’s going to now give you leadership on the court from that position because there is virtually a coach on the floor. That’s not to take away from James’s IQ or anything like that but it’s a different ball game when you’re the Point Guard and you’re looking for others. James is a scorer as we’ve seen. Now I think with CP3, it helps that group and also helps D’Antoni. He’s been so successful when he’s had someone at the helm like a Steve Nash or like now he’ll have CP3, where he can really trust that Point Guard. Now he can just worry about other things out there but until they start playing defense, I think that’s always going to be the issue. When D’Antoni was in Phoenix, he didn’t commit to the defensive side of things and we saw what happened. They had great offense but the defense was always the issue towards the end because the game slows down towards the Playoffs and if you don’t make a jumpshot or if you don’t make that three, then things are a little tight. With them doing that, I like it. I think it brings them a different perspective out there. Now you have a true leader at the helm and now with Paul George in OKC that one there was surprising.

“If there’s anything, all the chatter has been about Paul George going to LA. And you never know but being secluded in Oklahoma where all you have to worry about is about your game improvement. We’ve seen Kevin Durant be the MVP there and now Russell Westbrook. There’s something about being away from distractions that allows players to focus on their games and hone their skills. Now first and foremost, it takes the heart of a champion, that’s Kevin Durant that’s Russell Westbrook but they worked hard. Now Paul George being with Russell Westbrook, two LA guys, two guys that understand one another, who came up together, playing with each other things like that. Now I’m interested in seeing what they bring to the table, along with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter. Now you have some pieces there and it just keeps the West interesting. Everyone’s still looking at Golden State but if LeBron James does a better job on defense in Game 3 late in the game with Kevin Durant coming at him and he doesn’t drop below the three point line, that game changes. Now Cleveland have a chance at winning Game 3 and that then shifts the series. That’s not to say Cleveland would have won or lost but it just creates something a little different. So I like the parity of the West because I enjoy that aspect of it. I feel like the Lakers have gotten better but at the same time, you’re still looking at what the Clippers are going to do without Chris Paul. The Clippers without Chris Paul, I think they’ve taken a step backwards. You’ve got to have someone out there who can control the game. I don’t know if Patrick Beverley can step in and do something quite like that.”

On the French league…

“I try and watch it a little bit as far as Tony Parker is concerned as now he’s the owner of a team there and I think it’s impressive what he and Nicolas Batum have been able to do. We talk about guys and investments a lot and to invest in your own country and your own club in the game that you love, I think it’s great for their area to do that. Now you have some folk heroes, Tony Parker especially. TP has had to be incredibly responsible when he came into the NBA, meeting the President when he was 19 and having the composure to deal with that.”

On Eurobasket…

“You never know what’s going to happen in the summer with French basketball. In the World Championships, Spain were meant to win in Madrid and Tony and those guys beat them, what an upset. I’d love to be able to say France will be able to do this, do that but they still need time in terms of understanding each other. I don’t think you have enough time together as a team. It is an opportunity for them, but I just don’t know.”

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